SOUTHEND United striker Lee Barnard wants to help the club bounce back from the relegation many fans felt was caused by his departure.

The 29-year-old striker left the Shrimpers to join Southampton in January 2010 and, without his goals, Southend were unable to stay in League One.

But Barnard is now back with Blues on loan until the end of the season and he is eager to make up for lost time, starting with tomorrow’s clash at Mansfield Town.

“I didn’t want to leave Southend first time around but I felt like I had to and I was obviously gutted that they went on to get relegated that season,” said the former Mayflower School pupil in Billericay.

“I’m happy to be back now though and hopefully I can play a part in helping this club get back up to League Two because I really don’t think they should be playing at this level.

“The club is moving forward again and I’ve been impressed by the quality of the team already so hopefully we can get promotion this season.

“But for that to happen we need to get back to winning ways after a couple of draws so it’s a big game for us at Mansfield tomorrow.”

Blues sit fifth in the League Two table ahead of their trip to Field Mill where they will take on a Stags team who are 20th in the standings.

And Barnard, who became a father for the first time four weeks ago, will be looking to impress Southend’s fans all over again.

“I did well here in my first spell and scored a few goals but that doesn’t mean anything now,” said Barnard, who bagged 37 goals in 87 starts while with Blues first team around.

“I have to prove myself again now and I’ve never been someone to rest on their laurels.

“I want to get games and the operation I had on my ankle around October time has made that hard for me this season.

“But that’s feeling fine again now and I’m hoping to still have happy memories from this season with some goals and promotion for Southend.”