SOUTHEND United manager Phil Brown has moved to ease fears that Paul Smith remaining at Roots Hall means first choice goalkeeper Daniel Bentley is leaving the club.
Smith, who attracted interest from two Championship clubs since the end of last season, is set to sign a year long deal to stay with the Shrimpers.
But Brown wants Smith to fight with Bentley for a place in the team, not replace him.
“I’m delighted that Paul has agreed to stay with us for another season and he will be fighting to take Daniel Bentley’s place now which is very healthy,” said Brown.
“We actually had two Championship clubs ask about Paul’s availability and they wanted him to be their second or third choice goalkeeper.
“I said no to them both though as I want him to stay with us and the goalkeeping situation here is very strong indeed.
“In Daniel I think we have one of the best young players in the country, let alone the division and we have the experience of Paul to add to that too. We also have Ted Smith, the England under 18 goalkeeper, coming through and improving all the time so I’m very happy indeed with our options there.”
Wickford-based Bentley caught the eye between the sticks for the Shrimpers last season, keeping 20 clean sheets.
The 20-year-old had therefore been linked with a move away from Southend.
But no offers have yet to be received.
“I’m sure people are looking in with envy that we’ve got Daniel, but there have been no offers and we will do everything we can to keep him,” said Brown.
“In his appraisal at the end of the season he was very positive about next season with us, but if a big offer came in to turn his head and ours then maybe that would change.
“However, we don’t want that to happen because we want him to be with us next season and he will face a fight on his hands from Paul because he’s not happy to just settle for being the number two keeper.”
Smith, 33, joined Blues in the summer of 2012 but made just one appearance for the club last season, a 5-2 defeat to Dagenham & Redbridge in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.