Versatile youngster Rob Howard returned to his roots after completing a two-year scholarship with Essex rivals Colchester United.
The right-back came through the Blues Academy until joining Arsenal at the age of 14.
After two seasons with the Gunners Rob headed to north Essex but, despite featuring in a side that reached the Fifth Round of The FA Youth Cup with the U’s in 2017/18, he was allowed to leave the club, joining Blues on trial during the second half of that campaign.
Howard spent three years with Blues during his initial period with the club, and he signed a deal in the summer to link up with the U23s initially.
The Billericay-based youngster showcases real composure in the defensive third, as well as impressing in one-on-one situations.
To aid his development Rob joined National League South side Dartford on loan at the beginning of the 2019/20 season, before a spell with Braintree Town.
Rob's Southend United debut came in December 2020 away to Mansfield Town. He ended the 20/21 season on loan at King's Lynn Town where he made 16 appearances in the National League.
More game time with Blues followed in the 21/22 season as he featured in Kevin Maher's first game in charge away to Dagenham & Redbridge