BLUES boss Phil Brown felt Ryan Leonard’s new contract weighed heavily on the midfielder’s shoulders during Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at Morecambe.

Leonard, who has been in fine form for the Shrimpers this season, has now committed his future to the club until the summer of 2017.

But Brown did not think the contract had a positive impact on the energetic 21-year-old at the Globe Arena.

“I thought the contract would spur Ryan on and in the first half there were positive signs but I think it actually weighed on his mind if I’m honest,” said the Shrimpers chief.

“One or two things happened in the second half that we didn’t want and that’s why I ended up making the change and brought Marc Laird on in his place.”

Leonard has now hit the back of the net seven times for the Shrimpers this season.

And he is thrilled to have signed an extended deal to remain at Roots Hall.

“I’m delighted to have signed a new contract because I’ve really enjoyed my time with Southend,” said Leonard, who joined Blues in July 2011.

“I’ve had the best season of my career so far and have managed to keep my place in the starting line-up in a position I only really moved to under the new manager in the summer.

“I want to continue my development and I feel that Southend United is the perfect place for me to do that.”