U's bid for former Man Utd keeper

COLCHESTER United are set to make an offer for Carlisle United's highly-rated keeper, Ben Williams.

Carl Marston

COLCHESTER United are set to make an offer for Carlisle United's highly-rated keeper, Ben Williams.

U's boss Paul Lambert is keen to bolster his goalkeeping department, which suggests that he is not entirely happy with just Mark Cousins and Dean Gerken contesting the No. 1 spot.

Jimmy Walker, who spent three successful months on loan from West Ham last season, has been released by the Hammers this summer. But Lambert has already recognised that Walker is likely to move to a club at a higher level than the U's.


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Lambert has therefore turned his attention to Williams, who is a former Manchester United trainee and ex-Crewe Alexandra favourite.

United have already recruited from Carlisle United this year, when signing Cumbrians winger Simon Hackney in January for a little over �100,000. Now they are looking to add another player from Brunton Park.

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Furthermore, Williams would be the second ex-Manchester United trainee that Lambert has signed this summer, following in the footsteps of midfielder David Fox, if the U's offer was accepted. Shrewsbury Town are also believed to be interested in making a bid for the keeper.

At present, Carlisle boss Greg Abbott is remaining tight-lipped over a possible approach from the U's. However, the fact that Abbott signed another keeper, Adam Collin from Workington Reds, earlier in the summer, implies that Williams might be on his way, although Williams is still seen as the No. 1.

The 26-year-old was close to first-team football during his apprenticeship at Manchester United. In fact, he played a few pre-season games for the Old Trafford club, and was also on the bench a couple of times during the season proper due to injuries to Fabian Barthez.

Manchester-born Williams eventually left his home town club in 2004, signing on a free transfer to Crewe. He went on to play more than 130 league games for the Railwaymen, even though he contracted Meningitis during the 2006-07 campaign.

Crewe actually closed their training ground to prevent the spread of the illness. Williams fortunately made a quick recovery, and was back playing again within two months.

He signed for Carlisle a year again, and had a topsy-turvy season, as in fact did the whole team. He lost his place to on-loan Ben Alnwick, who was in goal for the heavy 5-0 defeat at the Community Stadium in October, but regained his form during the second half of the season.

Williams was in goal when the U's secured a league double with a 2-0 win at Brunton Park at the end of January. He played well that day in a game which Lambert's men dominated, conceding an own goal from Danny Livesey and a late strike from David Perkins.

Williams' performances helped to keep Carlisle in League One, and at the same time earned him second place in the vote for player-of-the-year.

Meanwhile, Cousins and Gerken were both given a run in the Colchester team at the end of last season. Gerken is still under contract, although he was farmed out on loan to Darlington earlier in the year, while Cousins signed a new two-year deal over the summer.

Yeates is grateful

MARK Yeates, who completed a �500,000 move from Colchester to Middlesbrough on Friday, has thanked the Essex club for their role in furthering his career.

Ex-Tottenham winger Yeates said: “Personally, I think it is a massive move for me and I hope that Colchester United feel they have benefited from it as well.

“I have played most of my league games at Colchester and have a great affection for the club.”

Yeates arrived at the U's on a permanent contract two years ago, for an undisclosed six-figure fee believed to be around �100,000. The transfer fee received from 'Boro for the Dubliner could increase to �750,000, depending on appearances.

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