DEAN Gerken has already achieved plenty of career milestones.

But the satisfaction the experienced keeper currently gets in playing for his beloved Colchester United means he will relish his next landmark with the club as much as any other.

Gerken, a promotion winner with the U’s back in 2006, is set to rack up his 150th league appearance for Colchester when they travel to play Walsall at the Banks’s Stadium, tomorrow.

It is an impressive statistic for the popular shot-stopper, one that has been achieved by only six other Colchester goalkeepers since the club joined the Football League, back in 1950.

“It means a lot when you have the admiration that I have for the club and the history it has,” said Gerken, who came through the youth set-up at Colchester prior to making his senior debut for the club back in 2004.

“I’ve been brought up through the Colchester system and I have a huge affiliation with it.

“I want to tick off as many milestones as I can at Colchester United and this is one of them.

“I’m over the moon to be back here and part of a team that wants to be pushing and make the club better.

“Looking back at my decision to come here, I’ve had nothing but a great time here and enjoyed every minute.

“It’s been everything I expected and more and I want to keep it doing it as much as I can.”

Gerken has already helped Colchester rack up two clean sheets this season, in their four-match unbeaten league run.

The 35-year-old former Ipswich Town and Bristol City keeper is aiming to help them register another tomorrow against Walsall, as they bid to secure three points on the road.

Gerken said: “The way we’ve played in our first four games of the season, I don’t think we’re going to go into any game and have fear about it.

“We’ll have ultimate respect for the opposing team and the threats that they pose and how they go about their business.

“But we go to Walsall excited for the challenge and looking to impose our game on them.

“We know it’s going to be a tough game.

“They’re a physical team and unbeaten so we know it’s going to be a hard game but it’s one where we think we can impose our threat.”

Gerken helped Colchester reach the League Two play-offs last season in his first season back at the club after returning for a second spell in the summer of 2019.

The likes of Luke Prosser, Ryan Jackson and Frank Nouble all departed the JobServe Community Stadium in the summer but keeper Gerken feels they are adjusting well to the chances.

He added: “In all, it’s been a very positive start to the season.

“We think we should have had two more points on the board after the Oldham game.

“But if you’d offered me the chance to start the season unbeaten like this, I’d have snapped your hand off for it.

“Everyone always get a bit nervous I guess when you’ve lost the players that we’ve lost and things have all changed around.

“You’re always going to have a bit of anxiety but that’s the same with any season because you know how everyone is going to gel, with new signings.

“We’ve got a youngish team and young players have been getting the opportunities because of the situation we’ve been with Covid but they’re also well deserved and they seem to have stepped up to the plate.

“I’m very optimistic about it.”