Ward to stick with Coker after Hillsborough hiccup
COLCHESTER United manager John Ward will stick with left-back Ben Coker following his Hillsborough hiccup.
The 21-year-old has been an unexpected revelation in the second half of the season, superbly filling the big shoes left by Marc Tierney following his departure to Norwich in the January transfer window.
Signed from Suffolk non-league side Bury Town last summer, Coker has made the huge step up from the fourth tier of non-league to the third tier of the professional game look easy at times.
And while he found the going tough at Sheffield Wednesday last weekend as Colchester went down to a 2-1 defeat, manager Ward says he won’t make a hasty decision to drop the youngster when the Essex club host Rochdale in a League One fixture tomorrow.
“Coker’s done more than we all expected,” said Ward. “Yes last weekend he had a poor game, but in the development of him as a player that was probably the best thing that could have happened to him.
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“Previously everything had gone well for him, but last week he got turned over a couple of times, he got knocked off the ball, he got booked for the first time and he generally found it a bit difficult.
“The question is do I keep going with Coker or do I take him out and give someone else a look?
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“Well at the moment I’m going to stick with Ben Coker and say ‘show me what you’ve learned’.
“He’s going to be a very good player I have no doubt.”
That’s bad news for Conor Powell, the former Republic of Ireland Under-21 international left-back who was signed from Irish side Bohemians in January.
The 23-year-old signed a six-month deal and would have got an automatic 12 month extension this summer had he played a certain number of games. Coker’s form, however, means he has yet to make his U’s debut.
“Conor’s been unfortunate,” said Ward.
“He’s not been a minute’s trouble for me, I watch him play in the reserves and think he deserves a chance really but the kid is in front of him (Coker) has been fantastic.”
– Full match preview of Colchester Utd v Rochdale in tomorrow’s EADT.