Southend United’s Conor Clifford says he’s determined to make up for last season with a positive campaign at Roots Hall.
Clifford endured a frustrating first season with Blues, hampered by a couple of red cards and time out of the side, making 28 appearances, scoring one goal.
The 22-year-old has been a key figure in Blues’ midfield during pre-season so far and is hoping he will have done enough to start the first game against Accrington Stanley on August 9th.
Speaking ahead of the visit of Ipswich and QPR to Roots Hall, Clifford said: “Last season was frustrating at times so I have to say that this season will be a very important one for myself. I’m really looking forward to it.
“I need to show all again what I’m about and what I can do. It’s been good to get some games under my belt in pre-season and hopefully I can just keep showing the manager that I’m ready to start the first game.
“Every player is determined to be in the starting line-up for the first game of the season and that’s certainly my aim. We’ve played in a 4-4-2 quite a bit in pre-season and I enjoy that formation.
“You can get on the ball a lot more and that’s what I like to do. I’ve been playing in there with Ryan Leonard and we seem to link up quite well. Obviously we all feel for Michael Timlin because he’d been looking sharp in pre-season, but I’m sure he’ll come back stronger.”
With Ipswich Town and QPR to visit Roots Hall this week as Blues step up their preparations, Clifford is looking forward to testing himself against quality opposition.
He said: “At this level sometimes the ball is in the air quite a lot, but when you’re up against the top teams they like to get the ball down and play, which will be good for us.
“It will be another big step up for us but we all enjoy testing ourselves against better teams and players. We’ll have to work hard and at times we’ll be chasing the ball, but it’s all good preparation for the start of the season.
“I’m feeling really fit and ready. I worked hard over the summer to make sure I was in good shape to come back and really hit the ground running.
“I think we’re going to be playing 45 minutes against Ipswich and 45 minutes against QPR. Those minutes should mean I’m ready for that all-important first game of the season.”
You can watch an interview with Conor exclusively on Blues Player.