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It's all gain for Jack Payne in Southend United's first team
JACK Payne is loving life with Southend United’s first team.
The 18-year-old midfielder endured an uncertain summer, not knowing if he still had a future with the Shrimpers.
But the teenager was handed a professional deal after impressing during pre-season.
And he has followed that up by appearing in two of Blues’ first four games of the new campaign, making his full debut in the Capital One Cup defeat to Yeovil Town.
“I was a little bit surprised when I found out I was starting against Yeovil but it’s been great being involved in the matches,” said Payne, who came through the youth system at Roots Hall.
“It was also nice to come on towards the end of Saturday’s game against Northampton but I’m just going to keep working hard now.
“I want to keep improving as a player and hopefully get another chance to impress in the first team.
“The last couple of months have been amazing and I’m just enjoying it at the moment.”
Payne and his Shrimpers team-mates are now looking to continue their impressive start to the season which sees them second in the League Two table after three games unbeaten.
And for that to happen the diminutive teenager knows he must improve his fitness.
“I was delighted to get about 60 minutes against Yeovil,” said Payne. “I think playing in that has helped me to get fitter but it also showed me just how fit I will need to be.
“It was an incredible experience making my debut but now it’s all about building on that over the next few months and trying to make more appearances. “
Payne faces plenty of competition for a place in the centre of the park but he could rise up the pecking order if Marc Laird faces an extended spell on the sidelines.
Laird has had a scan on the knee he injured against Northampton Town on Saturday but Blues are still waiting for the results which will determine how long the Scotsman will be sidelined for.