Sam Walker has made big strides for Colchester United this season, according to John McGreal.

And the U’s head coach is keen to keep hold of the long-serving shot stopper when his contract expires at the end of the season.

Walker, who was an ever present for Colchester in the league last season, has started every game in League Two for the club so far in the current campaign.

The 26-year-old has helped them keep ten clean sheets in that time, including their latest in a 2-0 win over Newport County last weekend.

Walker will be looking for a 11th of the season at Carlisle United this weekend and boss McGreal says the former Chelsea youngster’s impressive form has been aided by the input of goalkeeping coach Rene Gilmartin, who arrived in the summer from Watford.

McGreal said: “Sam had his injury but then he came back and played every league game, last year.

“He’s done similar this year too, touch wood and I’m delighted that he’s made his 200th appearance for Colchester.

“He puts in the work and Rene deserves credit for that, because he’s done a lot of hard work with Sam.

“I think Sam has really improved all parts of his game, from playing out from the back, to dealing with crosses.

“We know he’s a great shot saver anyway but he’s improved that, too.

“Sam has had a great season and we’d love to keep hold of him.”

Colchester will be looking to boost their play-off credentials when they take on Carlisle tomorrow.

They currently lie five points off the top seven, with 15 games remaining.

McGreal said: “We felt that we’d done enough to warrant a win against Port Vale and the Newport game after that was a good one for us and a really good team performance.

“It was a good three points for us and has set things up again, going into the Carlisle game.

“They are an experienced team and you know that after the Wycombe defeat, one or two things would have been said about putting things right at home to Colchester.

“We’d be no different – we’d be exactly the same and we’ll try and put a show on for the fans.

“We’ve got to go there and try and stem that a little bit.

“They’ve been in good form of late at home and we have to go there and implement our game but also know that they conceded a couple of late goals at Wycombe, which sometimes still stays in the back of the mind.”

Brennan Dickenson is set to continue his injury comeback tonight when Colchester’s under-23s host their Burnley counterparts, at the Weston Homes Community Stadium.

Dickenson is expected to play for at least an hour in the Premier League Cup group match.