DEAN Gerken is back at Colchester United after a ten-year absence.

The 34-year-old goalkeeper, who was a free agent after leaving Ipswich Town at the end of last season, will return to the club where he started his career pending paperwork completion and ratification.

He is set to feature for his new club in their friendly against Welsh Premier League side Cefn Druids this afternoon.

Gerken, who had been training with the U’s and has travelled to their pre-season camp in Carden Park in Cheshire, made 126 first-team appearances for Colchester, after emerging through the youth ranks at Layer Road.

He was handed his Colchester debut by Phil Parkinson in a 3-2 defeat at Brentford in League One, in 2004.

Gerken played his part in the U’s historic promotion to the Championship in 2006 and was Geraint Williams’ first-choice keeper in their two seasons in the second tier.

The Rochford-born shot-stopper left Colchester in the summer of 2009 to join Bristol City and stayed at Ashton Gate for four years, before joining Ipswich Town.

He spent six years at Ipswich but after his contract was not renewed at the end of the last campaign, he moved on and has now joined Colchester.

Gerken could face Ipswich when the U’s host them in a friendly, next Friday.

Colchester had been on the lookout for a new keeper, following player-coach Rene Gilmartin’s departure to Championship club Bristol City.