SOUTHEND United are closing in on former Gillingham winger Myles Weston as a replacement for Anthony Straker.

Straker turned down the Shrimpers’ offer a new contract to sign a two year deal with the Minstermen.

But the Echo understands Weston is soon set to sign a deal at Roots Hall.

The 26-year-old was released by the Gills at the end of last season and is therefore available on a free transfer.

Weston, who represented England at under 16, 17, 18 and 19 age groups during his youth, made 43 appearances for Gillingham last season but was not offered a new deal by manager Peter Taylor.

Oxford United are also believed to be interested in signing the winger who has also played for Notts County and Brentford but Blues are said to be winning the race to sign him.

Weston would slot in for Straker who left the Shrimpers after two seasons with the club.

Straker joined Blues from Aldershot Town in the summer of 2012 but endured an indifferent first campaign at the club.

However, last season Straker impressed on a more consistent basis after moving him further forward on to the left wing.

Straker scored six goals in 47 appearances and worked his way on to the score-sheet on the final day of the season against Burton Albion in the play-offs.

But that proved to be his 72nd and final appearance for the club after agreeing to join the Minstermen who also reached the play-offs last season.

However another of Blues’ out of contract players, Jack Payne, looks certain to stay.

The 19-year-old midfielder made 15 appearances last season.

And Brown is pleased to be keeping the highly-rated teenager.

“Jack is away on holiday at the moment but when he gets back we fully expect him to sign a new deal which is great news,” said Brown.

“He’s a very talented young player and one I’m excited to be working with again next season.”