LEE Barnard wants to end nine months of frustration by firing Southend United to promotion this season.
The 29-year-old striker, who is back with the Shrimpers on loan from Southampton, looks set to be named in the squad for tonight’s clash at Dagenham & Redbridge.
And, having not made a competitive appearance since April 2013, Billericay based Barnard is now keen to rediscover the goalscoring form he showed in his first spell with Blues.
“I love scoring goals and I’m coming back to Southend to try and do that and help the team get promotion,” said Barnard.
“I know I may have to wait for my chance because the team are doing well and there are a lot of good strikers already at the club but I’m delighted to be back here.
“It’s my home-town which makes it extra special and things went well for me so hopefully they will this time too.”
Barnard scored 37 goals in 85 starts during his initial spell with the Shrimpers, which ended when he joined Southampton in January 2010.
The former Mayflower School pupil impressed for the Saints before falling out of favour as they worked their way in to the Premier League.
Barnard therefore opted to head out on loan with Bournemouth and Oldham Athletic but was then forced to the sidelines with an ankle injury which eventually required an operation.
And the forward feels it could now take him a few games for him to regain full match fitness.
“I’m feeling fit but you can’t beat actually playing matches and I will need a few to get that sharpness back,” said Barnard.
“I’m excited about getting involved again because I know this is a club that is going places.
“I’ve always had a great relationship with the fans and I’m looking forward to working with the manager who seems very ambitious, just like me.
“We need to keep pushing on and I want to try and make that happen.”
Barnard could figure tonight as Blues make the short trip to Victoria Road to take on 10th placed Dagenham.
And manager Phil Brown feels his latest signing will be able to line up in any of the front three striking positions.
“Lee was used to playing a 4-3-3 at Southampton and I think he can play in either the seven, nine or 11 role in that system,” said Brown.
“He would obviously prefer to play as the nine but he gives us the option of playing in a 4-4-2 and his arrival also keeps those currently in possession of the shirts right on their toes.”