ETHAN Ross knows his game time is likely to be restricted while Dean Gerken is performing so well for Colchester United.

But the U’s goalkeeper insists it is nevertheless vital he pushes his team-mate as much as possible for the prized possession of the number one shirt.

Ross, 22, has been forced to play second fiddle to Gerken in League Two so far this season and has been restricted to two Trophy appearances to date.

Gerken’s impressive form since returning to Colchester from Ipswich Town in the summer has meant that the former West Brom youngster has had to be content with a place on the bench, so far.

Nevertheless, Ross knows that he has a vital role to play, not least in pushing Gerken all the way for his place.

Ross said: “With Gerks doing so well, I know minutes are going to be limited from my perspective, at the moment.

“For me, it’s important that every day I push him and try to keep him on his toes and also learn as much as I can from him.

“By me doing that, I’m going to be keeping myself sharp and in and around it in case I’m called upon to do a job.

“The competition has to be fierce – if it isn’t, then the number one won’t perform.

“That’s the important thing, keeping each other match ready and on their toes as such.

“If the intensity levels aren’t right in training, then we all suffer in a way.

“The ultimate thing is that we want whoever’s playing to be the best that they can be for the team.

“When you’re not playing, it’s not so much about yourself – it’s more about the team.

“If you’ve pushed the goalkeeper who’s playing and he goes out and plays well on the Saturday, it’s a win-win for everybody.

“For me, there’s a little bit more focus on training now as well, trying to show the gaffer and the management staff here what I can do every day in training.

“It’s more so that they trust me so that when the games do come round, they’re comfortable knowing that if God forbid, Gerks gets injured or sent off or anything like that I can go straight in and perform.”

Ross says he has enjoyed working alongside the experienced Gerken every day in training has been a good learning curve.

“Dean's a great character,” said Ross, who has made five appearances for Colchester since joining them in July, 2018.

“I really like working with him and I think for me personally, I can learn a lot from him.”

Ross made his second appearance of the season for Colchester last week when he featured in their 1-1 draw with Spurs under-21s, in the Trophy.

He added: “On the whole, I was pleased with it and pleased to get minutes on the pitch.”