IAN Henderson hopes a more regular starting place in the Colchester United side next season will help him better his goal tally of last campaign.
The 26-year-old midfielder, from Thetford, scored five goals in his last six matches to end 2010/11 as the U’s top scorer with a total of 10 strikes in 36 league games.
However, he started in just 24 of those appearances, but is targeting a more consistent run after signing a new contract at the Weston Homes Community Stadium.
“They let a few guys go, but I’m very happy to sign a two-year deal for manager John Ward and the chairman,” said Henderson, who can also play up front. “It was three months ago that I was offered a contract, but I’ve finally come to an agreement and signed.”
A number of players had departed Colchester, casting doubt on Henderson’s future, but now the contract has been signed, he is hoping to make more of an impact when the new League One season kicks off on August 6.
He said: “I made less than 30 starts last season, whereas I was looking to get into the 40s, but to score 10 goals was pretty neat considering I played most of the season from the right wing.”
Meanwhile, on the left-hand side, former Bury Town player Ben Coker has impressed on the pitch, and is someone Henderson has formed a close bond with off the field.
“He’s my best mate at the football club,” he said. “Considering he’s come from non-League, he’s fitted in extremely well.
“As a person, he’s been excpetional to have around the place and he has a lot of respect from all the players.
“He ended up starting 20 or 21 games, which is remarkable considering he was nowhere near the first team to start with.”
Henderson only played football in his native Thetford – for the Panthers – until he was nine years old, when he was snapped up by Norwich City.
He made his debut for the Canaries against Coventry in October 2002 and scored on his second outing, in a 4-2 defeat at Wimbledon 10 days later.
Despite his sensational start, Henderson would only go on to make 26 starts and 42 substitute appearances before he was loaned out to League One outfit Rotherham United in 2007.
However, he did get a brief taste of the Premiership in 2004/05, appearing against Manchester City, Blackburn Rovers and champions Chelsea.
After his time at Rotherham, he joined Northampton, but failed to make an impact, and then Luton Town.
But just six months were spent at Kenilworth Road before he was on the move again – this time abroad to Ankaragucu in Turkey, where he just a couple of months before returning to England to link up with Colchester.
Now Henderson is targeting honours with the U’s and believes the Essex outfit could make the play-offs.
“We are going to try and better ourselves,” said the midfielder.
“We finished 10th last year, so we want higher than that, but the play-offs have to really be an ambition for us as well.”