LEE Barnard cannot wait to start pre-season training with Southend United today as he bids to rediscover his best form.

The striker scored just once in 14 games after returning to Roots Hall on loan last January.

But the 29-year-old, who has now made his move back to Blues permanent, is confident of hitting the back of the net on a more regular basis.

“It was frustrating at times last season but I’m confident I can get back to my best with a good pre-season under my belt,” said Barnard.

“Hopefully I can have a good pre-season and then, when the season starts, repay the club’s faith in me by getting goals to help the team do well.”

Barnard had gone nine months without a match, due to an ankle injury, before his switch back to Southend from Southampton.

The striker lacked match sharpness and has therefore continued to work hard on his fitness since the end of last season.

“It was nice to have some time off but if I’m honest I really can’t wait to get started again,” said the former Mayflower School pupil.

“I didn’t play much during last season so I’ve kept working hard throughout the summer.

“But this is a fresh start for me in many ways because I’ll be able to get a full pre-season under my belt in preparation for the new season, which I didn’t have last time around.

“Because of that I’ve been working hard in the last couple of weeks and I’ve made sure I’m in  the best shape possible for the first day of training.”

Blues’ players will have their  fitness levels assessed on their first day back in training today.
And Barnard is eager for the friendlies to get underway.

“The pre-season games are all about getting the minutes in and finding your touch,” said the striker.

“I look forward to them because I know how important they are.

“The schedule this time around is good as we build up nicely to the start of the campaign with games against Ipswich Town and QPR that will really test us.

“We need it though because it’s a tough first month of the season but I believe if we get a good pre-season in, we will all be ready for it.”