Ward laughs off keeper conspiracies

Colchester United manager John Ward has poured water on any conspiracy theories regarding goalkeeper Ben Williams exiting the club.

COLCHESTER United manager John Ward has poured water on any conspiracy theories regarding goalkeeper Ben Williams exiting the club.

Williams – the U’s runaway player of the season in 2009/10 following a string of outstanding performances and 16 clean sheets – has inevitably been linked with a switch to Coventry City following former U’s boss Aidy Boothroyd’s switch to the Championship club.

The Sky Blues have one of the best keepers outside the Premier League in the form of Kieran Westwood, but the ambitious 25-year-old has just a year left on his current deal and has himself been linked with both Celtic and Sunderland.

And speculation that the pair would both be on the move hotted up over the weekend following the line-ups of both sides in their respective pre-season friendly matches.

Boothroyd left Westwood out of his team against Hinckley United, instead opting to take a look at Danish traillist Kevin Elegaard in the first half and youngster Michael Quirke in the second.

Meanwhile, with Williams ruled out by a minor knee injury sustained in training, U’s boss Ward drafted in former Ipswich Town and Norwich City keeper Andy Marshall to play the second half of Colchester’s 3-0 win over Maldon & Tiptree.

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Ward says that concerned U’s fans shouldn’t read too much into the situation though.

He said: “Andy (Marshall) coming in has been of mutual benefit. He was released by Aston Villa at the end of the season so we have given him somewhere local to his home to train, while it’s suited us because I didn’t want Mark Cousins to be training and playing every day.

“People can read into what they want, but it’s no more than that. There have been no promises of contracts to Andy.”

Williams – who failed to make an appearance at Coventry during a short loan spell in 2002 – has signalled his intention to honour his Colchester contract until 2012 this summer, saying that he would only move if a ‘ridiculous’ bid came in.

The former Manchester United trainee is likely to miss tomorrow night’s friendly at Lowestoft Town, but is expected to return to training towards the end of the week.

Meanwhile, left-back Marc Tierney is another key U’s player with a question mark over his head – the 24-year-old still having not agreed a contract extension heading into the final season of his current deal.

Ward said: “I was not really involved with Marc’s contract talks before, that was Aidy (Boothroyd). I’m still picking up one or two things that were left and these things – including Marc’s situation – will get there in due course.”

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