SOUTHEND United’s nine out of contract players will find out today if they will be remaining at Roots Hall next season.
Shrimpers boss Phil Brown will be holding talks with goalkeeper Paul Smith, defenders Mark Phillips, Julian Bennett and Ryan Auger, midfielders Marc Laird, Anthony Straker, Jack Payne and Bedsente Gomis plus striker Freddy Eastwood.
And they will all discover whether or not Brown is keen to keep them at the club.
“It would be foolish for me to say too much in public before I’ve spoken to the players but it’s a big day and they will be finding out if we will be offering them new deals,” confirmed Brown.
“We will be talking terms or parting company but the planning for next season definitely starts now.”
Blues’ promotion hopes were ended by Burton Albion in the League Two play-offs at Roots Hall on Saturday as the Brewers clinched a 3-2 win on aggregate.
The Shrimpers are therefore preparing for another year in the basement division.
And, with that in mind, Brown will also be holding meetings with players who are still under contract at the club.
“I will be at the training ground from 9am to 5pm and will be talking individually to every single one of the players,” said the Blues boss.
“We did the same at the start of the season, telling them all what we wanted from them and now we’re going to appraise them all again. It will be good to also find out the mentality of the players and it’s an important time because we also need to look at who we want to sign.
“It’s vitally important we get the recruitment right.”
Defender Phillips – who made 114 appearances in four seasons with the Shrimpers – looks certain to leave and there are also doubts over the future of Eastwood.
The striker enjoyed a prolific first spell with Southend, scoring 65 goals in 135 games, but he has netted just 12 times in 75 appearances since returning to the club, initially on loan, in March 2012.
Brown had previously claimed that talks with Straker and Payne were at an advanced stage but all discussions were then put on hold due to the play-offs.