Striker Matt Rush says he's excited about his future at Southend United after being offered his first professional contract.
Rush was one of eight Academy players to be offered terms in the last few days.
Likewise, he was one of a number to have already made his first-team debut this season, which came away at Sunderland.
The 19-year-old believes he’s in the right place to fulfil his potential.
"It’s what I’ve worked for all season,” said Rush.
"It was the number one goal, really, and is what every young player wants.
"At the moment everyone can see there’s a pathway into the first-team and with the amount of contracts given out, Ron obviously believes in us so as a player it’s the perfect place to be at the moment."
Following his breakthrough season, Rush is determined to get more opportunities.
"It’s been a dream come true, especially my debut coming on at Sunderland. It doesn’t really get any better than that.
"It made me think I want to do this every week and be in and around the first-team, which I have been for five months now. It’s where I want to be.
"I enjoy U23s, I enjoy youth games but first-team is real football where every single game you’re fighting for three points and that’s what I want."
Rush joined the club as an U14 after playing for his local side Wickford Town and then a few months at Billericay Town.
And he was keen to thank those who have helped him through the Academy set-up.
"In my youth team career Dave Huzzey and Danny Heath helped me out and developed my game a lot.
"This year Craig [Fagan - U23s Manager] has been brilliant really. He’s always free to do extras, no matter what everything has to be perfect, you have to work hard for him which is a really good thing.
"He keeps telling me to work hard and he’s obviously done it in the game and in the Premier League.
"I follow what he says and after every game he let’s you know what was good and bad. If I’ve not had a good game he’ll tell me which as a player is what you want.
"And the gaffer has given people opportunities so there’s coaches at the club who believe in young players.”
Rush has been following his own fitness programme given by the club over the last few months in anticipation of whatever comes next for the group.
"It’s [the contract] given me an opportunity to prove myself, so if we come at the end of this season or start of the new season I want to show what I can do and show that I deserve the contract.
"I’ve scored a lot of goals every season so now I can’t wait to repay the faith in the first team.
"And obviously there’s a lot of young boys coming up now so it’s good that we can progress together and it’s exciting times, definitely.”