SOUTHEND United Football Club’s academy has been confirmed in Category Three following their recent Elite Player Performance audit.

The Shrimpers’ staff worked tirelessly to secure the status.

And academy manager Ricky Duncan was thrilled by the news.

“We are absolutely delighted as both an academy and as a club that we’ve achieved category three status,” said Duncan.

“We were highly recommended following the audit we had at the end of last season and a huge amount of effort has gone into this from everyone associated with the academy.

“All of the staff have been superb and all the part-time staff have worked more hours than ever to make sure we achieved category three status.

“I’m extremely proud of everyone.”

The audit took place at the end of last season and the academy was praised for having eight graduates receive professional contracts.

The club have also been given recommendations on how to improve and attain category two status, which was close to being achieved this time around.

And Duncan is now keen to make that step up.

“Our first aim was to achieve category three status and I believe that in the future we have the capabilities to be awarded category two,” said Duncan.

“That would be another huge milestone for us.”

Blues’ chief executive Steve Kavanagh was also thrilled to see the club achieve category three status.

He was also full of praise for the job Duncan has done.

“Ricky Duncan has done a fantastic job overseeing the academy,” said Kavanagh.

“The academy here at Southend United continues to thrive and produce quality players for the first-team, but it is about much more than that.

“A lot of hard work from a lot of people goes in to provide the best quality coaching and the best environment possible for the youngsters in our academy.”