Ward set to make statement with keeper selection

COLCHESTER United manager John Ward knows he’s going to make a major statement with his goalkeeper selection for tomorrow’s visit of Swindon Town.

Mark Cousins has played admirably in the last game and a half and was desperately unfortunate to be on the wrong end of successive 1-0 away defeats at Charlton and Hartlepool having made some particularly impressive saves at Victoria Park last weekend.

However, Ben Williams has now returned to training this week after recovering from the back injury which forced him off at The Valley leaving the U’s boss with a major selection headache.

Does he reward the patient and ready-whenever-called-upon Cousins with an extended run in the side, giving the Essex-born 24-year-old a chance to strengthen his case for a contract extension this summer?

Or does he put Williams, his No.1, the man who set League One alight with some breathtaking displays last season and who had just begun to show signs of a return to his very best form just prior to this latest injury, straight back into the team?


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“It’s a tough decision for me,” admitted Ward, who did the latter of the above last October when faced with a similar set of circumstances.

“I don’t mind making big decisions though. I make them and then get on with it. I hope they can do that as well because only one of them can play. Goalkeepers are goalkeepers. If you’re in you’re in, if you’re not you’re not.

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“It will make some kind of statement when I make the decision but I’ll leave that until Thursday (today) when I’ve had a good look at everyone in training.

“It’s a tough one because I’ve been really pleased with Mark Cousins. He’s taken his opportunity really well.”

Following two successive defeats, Colchester have slipped to 10th in the table and are now six points adrift of the play-off places.

Tomorrow they chase a third consecutive home win against a Swindon side that have dropped into the relegation zone following a winless eight game run.

– For full match preview, including an interview with the U’s reigning scrabble champion, see tomorrow’s EADT.

BEN WILLIAMS

Age: 28

Born: Manchester

Joined U’s: From Carlisle for �60,000 in July 2009.

– Named U’s ‘Player of the Season’ in his debut campaign, keeping 16 clean sheets.

– Missed start of this season with ankle injury.

– Went straight back into the side when fit but failed to rediscover his sparkling form of the previous season.

– Gradually began to improve this year but then had to come off at half-time of the 1-0 defeat to Charlton recently with a back injury.

MARK COUSINS

Age: 24, Born: Chelmsford

Joined U’s: As a trainee

– Played twice in 07/08, nine times in 08/09 and twice more last season. Admitted he considered a loan move away last summer.

– Largely impressed during a 12 game spell in the team at the start of the season while Williams was injured.

– Picked up where he left off over the last game and a half.

– Is out-of-contract this summer.

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