Southend United are delighted to announce Nathan Ralph has pledged his future to the club by signing a new contract.
The left-back, who has been recovering from cruciate ligament damage suffered in October 2020, has penned a new one-year deal which includes a club option of a further 12 months.
And Ralph is eager to put his injury troubles behind him now.
"I’ve had an unfortunate couple of years with two long-term injuries so I’m happy to sign and be able to focus on my football," said Ralph.
"It’s been nice to get back out there with the players, starting pre-season with them, after so many months in the gym and working alone.
"I’m pleased to have signed for Southend again and I feel after being out for so long I’ve got a bit of a point to prove so I want to show that.
"I was in over the summer five days a week with the strength and conditioning coaches. The stuff I’ve done has really helped me.
"I feel fit and strong but it will be a phased return for me over the course of next week with the aim of being fit for the start of the season."
Manager Phil Brown said: "Where Nathan’s concerned he’s been working tirelessly, and I mean tirelessly – I’ve never seen a guy so devoted to his work than what Nathan Ralph has been.
"His attitude and mentality is something that caught my attention as soon as I came through the door, albeit that I had not seen him as a footballer.
"He’s on the training ground now each day with the rest of the squad and his technique is way above the National League so I’m delighted to get the quality of that player into the camp.
"I’m sure loyalty will be questioned in the world of football from now until doomsday but where loyalty is concerned, we’ve looked after Nathan for a couple of years whilst he’s not been able to play and he’s repaid us with signing a new deal.
"I’m hoping that he has an injury-free period now through pre-season and he’s got a direct battle, like JD has at right back, with a young lad behind him. Rob Howard down the right-hand side and Tom Clifford down the left, so the full-back berths are an area I’m looking forward to working with.
"Nathan is fully recovered from the physical side of it, meaning the strength and conditioning work he’s been doing etc. He’s been released into the group of players but not 100 per cent. The surgeon is refraining him from full contact until the back end of July.
"By the time the season starts he would’ve played in some games but not all. He’ll be considered for the latter stages of the pre-season games, but his pathway has been mapped out by the physios at the club and hopefully that pathway will be injury-free and we get him to the party on the 21 August."
Welcome back, Nathan!