SOUTHEND United are set to open contract talks with top goalscorer Kevan Hurst later this week.

Hurst’s current deal expires at the end of the season.

But boss Phil Brown is keen to keep him at the club and is due to meet with the winger’s agent to discuss a new deal.

“I am meeting with Kevan’s agent tomorrow to talk about sorting out a new contract for him,” said Brown.

“I’ve spoken to Kevan who has assured me he’s very happy at Southend and that he wants to play for me.

“He’s got nine goals and something like eight assists already this season so it’s a no brainer than we want him to stay and I think it’s important to plan long term.

“In modern day society everybody wants everything yesterday but that’s dangerous when it comes to football and we’re working towards a plan here which we very much want Kevan to remain a part of.”

Hurst has already scored more goals this season than he has done in any other previous campaign.

And Brown believes the 28-year-old is now among the biggest talents in League Two.

“I would say Kevan is up there with the best players in this league and we’re up against another one in Chesterfield’s Gary Roberts on Saturday,” said Brown.

“I wouldn’t go as far as saying it was Kevan Hurst against Gary Roberts but the two players will have a big say on the game and we obviously hope it’s Kevan who is the more influential.”

Brown is keen to open contract talks with key players before the end of the season to lower the chances of losing them on a free transfer.

And in-form midfielder Ryan Leonard is another influential performer who could be handed a new deal.

“Ryan actually has a clause in his contract which means he will still be our player next season but I’d like to look beyond that,” said Brown.

“He’s a young lad and the way he’s been playing he’s someone I would certainly like to tie down on a long term contract.”