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Smith On Keeper Lockdown

How have the U's keepers been staying sharp at home?

5 June 2020

Darren Smith has been explaining how difficult lockdown has been for the U's keepers.

The Colchester United Goalkeeping Coach joined the club last summer, tasked with looking after all aspects of the goalkeepers at his disposal.

He has worked with Dean Gerken, Ethan Ross, Bailey Vose and Callum Coulter, and has seen a valuable number of clean sheets kept across the 2019/20 campaign.

There were sixteen shut-outs for the U's, including the two Carabao Cup ties against Crystal Palace and Tottenham Hotspur.

The last of these came at Carlisle United at the beginning of March, a 3-0 win that turned out to be the final game the U's played before the season was cut short by the COVID-19 outbreak.

There was never any certainty whether the season would restart, so the players had to try and maintain some fitness whilst staying safe at home.

Smith explained that maintaining those fitness levels was  ok for the keepers, but the position specific work was much harder to complete.

He told the official website: "Training for a goalkeeper on your own at home is almost impossible to do."

"Keeping up with the cardiovascular work and doing their weights sessions kept them ticking over but nothing they could do really replicates what we do when we're at Florence Park.

"Ethan was fortunate that his Dad could help him in the garden but it has been great for them to be back at the training ground this week."

The U's are now preparing for the potential Play-Off Semi-Final games with Exeter City, and that has meant an intense first few days for the keepers.

Smith said: "The lads have had to work extra hard this week to get themselves up to speed again, with their handling and movement especially coming under scrutiny after the enforced break."

"We're hoping the games will get the go-ahead as quickly as possible so we have to be ready for when we get the green light."

That green light is expected to come following next Tuesday's EFL vote, and Smith is looking forward to finishing the job the players and staff started last summer.

Winning at Carlisle saw the U's jump into the top seven, a vital move up the table given the situation that was about to envelope the football world.

"We all know that there is still the voting to go through, but when I was told that it looked extremely likely that the Play-Offs would be the only football left this season, I was like a kid at Christmas - I couldn't wait!"

"Six weeks ago, I thought the season was going to be a write-off, so it was great to hear that we would have an opportunity to fight for the promotion we were all aiming for when things kicked off last August."


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