LEE BARNARD has returned to Southend United on loan from Southampton until the end of the season.

The 29-year-old striker scored 37 goals in 85 starts during his initial spell with the Shrimpers which ended in January 2010.

And Blues boss Phil Brown is thrilled to have brought the forward back to the club.

“It’s great news that we’ve managed to bring Lee to the football club and I’m sure he can make a good impression,” said Brown.

“He obviously did very well for the club when he was here originally and hopefully he can have more success in front of goal as he did then.

“Lee hasn’t played much first-team football so far this season but did well during two loan spells in League One last year.

“We’ve got some very important games coming up and I felt it was key that we added another striker to our ranks.”

Billericay based Barnard is free to make his debut in the fourth round of the FA Cup against Hull City tomorrow.