SOUTHEND United manager Paul Sturrock believes his side’s chances of promotion have been boosted by the loan extension of top goalscorer Britt Assombalonga.
As was revealed in Echosport last month, the 20-year-old forward has now agreed to remain on loan at Roots Hall from Watford until the end of the season.
And Sturrock is certain it will give Blues a huge boost.
“Everyone connected with the club should be delighted Britt will be staying because his progression since coming here has been fantastic,” said Sturrock.
“Sometimes when you bring in a young player it doesn’t quite work out and we’ve seen that with boys like (Antonio) German and (Nathaniel) Jarvis who we’ve had here.
“But, after just a couple of days in training, I knew Britt had something about him. I didn’t even need to see him in a game and he’s been fantastic for us.
“He’s gelled together superbly with Gavin Tomlin and the fact we’re keeping them together for the remainder of the season has to increase our chances of success.”
Assombalonga, who joined Blues at the start of the season, currently tops the scoring charts with 12 goals.
And Sturrock feels it will benefit the youngster’s game staying in League Two.
“I think sometimes you can jump up the leagues too quickly, so remaining here with us will be of benefit to him, us and Watford as well,” said the Scotsman.
“He will learn by getting games and if he continues to do well and is successful with us then who knows what level he will be playing at next season.”
Assombalonga has helped Blues work their way in to the play-off positions in League Two, while fellow loanees Marc Laird and Tamika Mkandawire – who both line up in midfield – have also been influential.
Their loan spells expire at the start of January and Sturrock now has his sights set on keeping the duo at the club for longer.
“We’re in negotiations with their clubs and agents and hope to be able to extend their stays with us too,” said Sturrock.
“They’ve also been a key part of the good run we’re on and we want to keep them for as long as we can.”