Blues' boss delighted to have trio here for the new season...
Southend United manager Phil Brown believes Paul Smith, Lee Barnard and Jack Payne will all have important roles to play for the club next season.
It was confirmed earlier today that the trio have committed their futures to the club for the 2014-15 campaign and Blues’ boss is delighted to have kept them all here.
Brown said: “I am very pleased to have secured their services for next season because they will all have an important role to play for different reasons.
“Paul Smith is a very experienced goalkeeper, and having spoken to him, he is ready to push Daniel Bentley all the way for that number one shirt next season.
“Bentley had a terrific season, but Paul will come back in pre-season and be ready to push hard to be in goal for the first game on August 9th.
“In my opinion he is the best number two in the division, but he doesn’t have that number two mentality which is very important.
“His experience is vital and can really help the younger goalkeepers like Dan, and Ted Smith, to improve themselves. I’m pleased he’ll be with us for the new campaign.”
Brown believes a proper pre-season for Barnard will lead to him having a much more fruitful campaign, having found things difficult after returning to the club in January.
He added: “Lee hadn’t played much football before he joined so we knew it’d be tough for him. He’ll be able to get a full pre-season under his belt and be ready for the campaign.
“Hopefully we can get him back playing how he was during his first spell with the club. He’s an out and out striker who knows where the goal is, so I’m sure he can rediscover that sort of form.
“We’ll work closely with him, and he’ll get good minutes under his belt in the friendly, to ensure he’s ready for the first game on August 9th.”
Youngster Payne had an impressive breakthrough season, and Brown is now out to see more from the youngster, who he says smashed through the targets he was set last campaign.
“In pre-season we set Jack some targets and after three months of the campaign, he’d reached them,” Brown added. “So we’ll have to make the targets tougher this time around.
“But he’s got a fabulous determination and a real passion to succeed, so I’m sure he will be able to achieve once again. We’re pleased with how he is developing.
“He made his mark off the bench a number of times so for him it’s now all about trying to break into the first-team to start games, which is a challenge I’m sure he will relish.”