PHIL Brown wants to keep both John Egan and Jakub Sokolik at Southend United for next season.

The defensive duo both impressed for the Shrimpers while on loan at the end of last season.

But Brown knows he could have a fight on his hands to sign the centre-backs on a permanent basis.

“We’ve put a marker down with both John and Jakub and made reference to the fact that we would very much like them to stay but I’m sure they could have a few offers,” said the Blues boss.

“They’re both from good stock having been with Sunderland and Liverpool respectively but because of how well they did for us I’m sure they will be attracting interest from elsewhere.

“We’ve been given permission to talk to the players but their clubs and we’re chasing their agents at the moment too.

“We could be in the driving seat because they’ve been here already but at the same time if a Championship or League One club comes in to sign them I would fully understand if they went there instead to play at a higher level.”

Egan came to the Shrimpers from Sunderland and impressed at the heart of the back, making 15 appearances.

The 21-year-old also won the club’s goal of the season award for a stunning 35 yard strike at Scunthorpe United and struck up a good partnership with Sokolik.

The 20-year-old, from the Czech Republic, came to the Shrimpers from Liverpool and made 12 appearances for the club that impressed Brown.

“The two of them are both young lads and we had to throw them together really but they responded superbly well,” said Brown.

“They’ve started out on their careers now but we’ve been able to help them here with the coaching staff we have and hopefully that can stand us in good stead when it comes to them making a decision about their futures.

“We’ll be doing all we can to try and make them pick Southend United but unfortunately I'm sure they will have other offers."