Southend United midfielder Conor Clifford is delighted to be getting the chance to impress, and is determined to continue his positive start to the season against Stevenage on Saturday.Clifford got the nod ahead of Will Atkinson in the central midfield role for the first game of the season, with Phil Brown rewarding the 22-year-old for what he described as an ‘excellent pre-season’.
The former Chelsea youngster repaid his manager’s faith in him with a top display against Accrington Stanley, and he’s looking to continue that against Graham Westley’s side at Roots Hall this weekend.
He said: “I was delighted when the manager said I would be starting the game against Accrington Stanley because I’d worked really hard over the summer and in pre-season to try and force my way into the team.
“I had a frustrating season last year which wasn’t helped by a couple of red cards, but it was great to be in from the start against Accrington and hopefully the manager felt I did enough to start against Stevenage.
“Against Walsall on Tuesday I wasn’t expecting to play as much of a part but when Will had to come off with an injury, it gave me another good hour of football. I was just pleased to get more minutes on the pitch.
“It’s a big year for me this season and it has got off to a good start. Now my aim is to keep my place in the team and play as many games as possible this season to try and help Southend get promoted.”
With Stevenage to visit Roots Hall on Saturday, Clifford is hoping to help Blues make it two wins from two at the start of the league season, but he’s well aware of the task ahead, not just this weekend, but over the course of the season.
“We did well against Walsall on Tuesday night and they are a good footballing side,” he said. “I’m not sure Stevenage will come to Roots Hall and play that way so we’ll have to be ready to adapt.
“As long as we play the way we have done so far this season, then I’m confident we can get the three points. Stevenage will be up there come the end of the season so this will be a big test for us.
“I’m confident that we will be up there again, but a good start is always important and having picked up the three points against Accringotn, we’ll be looking to do the same again on Saturday.”