We can continue to shock - Gerken

COLCHESTER United keeper Dean Gerken sees no reason why the U's, the surprise package of the Championship, cannot continue to shock teams during the second half of the season.

By Carl Marston

COLCHESTER United keeper Dean Gerken sees no reason why the U's, the surprise package of the Championship, cannot continue to shock teams during the second half of the season.

Gerken retained his place in the starting line-up, even though regular No.1 Aidan Davison was fit enough to sit on the substitutes' bench against Stoke.

The 21-year-old celebrated by keeping a clean-sheet in a 3-0 victory.

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The Southend-born keeper hopes to retain his place at promotion-chasing Preston this Saturday, and so help to extend the U's fine recent run - they have collected 13 points from a possible 15.

“We have nothing to lose at Preston. We will be going there with the same mentality as our previous two away games,” insisted Gerken last night. The U's drew 0-0 at Cardiff and beat Crystal Palace 3-1 in their last two games on the road.

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“It's no fluke that we are in sixth place. It's not as if it's a false position after just a few games at the start of a season. We are already halfway through.

“It's a massive achievement to have got into the top six, but I don't see why we can't keep it going. The gaffer has said that we need to get to 50 points first, but once we know that we'll be playing Championship football again next season, then we'll be setting our sights higher.

“I think we can finish in the top half of the table. And who knows, maybe the play-offs?” added Gerken.

Former trainee Gerken has largely played second fiddle to the more experienced Davison over the last couple of years, but he has always impressed when called upon, not least during the final three games of last term when Davison was ill with food poisoning.

Gerken played a key role in securing automatic promotion from League One. He conceded just one goal in the last three matches against Bournemouth (2-1), Rotherham (1-0) and Yeovil (0-0).

And when Davison, who has been so reliable for the U's, was sidelined by a chest injury this month, Gerken again took his chance with both hands.

“I don't what the situation was, whether Aidan (Davison) was not quite fit, or whether the gaffer preferred me over him,” admitted Gerken, with reference to last weekend's game against Stoke.

“Aidan had trained all week, but perhaps he wasn't 100% fit. I'm sure he probably could have played, though. I was just delighted to keep a clean-sheet, my second in three games.

“For a change, it was nice to sit back and let the defenders do the work. Stoke were let down by their bad finishing. You could see that they were a decent side, and you could see why they had been on such a good run (six wins and a draw in their previous seven fixtures).

“But a lot of these teams, with their big players, suffer a reality-check when they come to Layer Road. They don't like playing at our Layer Dome!

“The likes of Lee Hendrie and Patrik Berger did not like it much, and it was great to deny a Premiership star like Berger with a save from his free-kick. He is a quality player.

“Preston are going well, but I think we can go there and get a point, if not all three. It's not beyond us.

“We know Liam Chilvers from his days with us. Liam seems to be playing week in, week out, for Preston. I'm glad that he's doing well,” added Gerken.

Centre-half Chilvers is set to play against his old team this weekend. It will be the first time he has faced the U's since he left Layer Road to join Preston on a free transfer last summer.

Paul Simpson's men beat Plymouth 3-0 last weekend to move up to third in the table, three places and four points ahead of the U's.

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