SO here we go again.

Just 11 weeks after suffering play-off heartbreak against Burton Albion, Southend United will again be gunning for glory in League Two.

Promotion will undoubtedly be the name of the game for Blues as they bid to secure a return to League One.

And a recent flurry of transfer activity after a relatively quiet summerhas increased the expectation and excitement surrounding the Shrimpers.

But for me their chances will be decided by what happens at the heart of the defence and in attack.

Last season, Southend boasted the best defensive record in the division, keeping 20 clean sheets.

Crucially since then, they have managed to keep hold of their highly rated young goalkeeper Daniel Bentley but not doing likewise with impressive loanee centre-back Jakub Sokolik was a big blow.

The Czech defender had been expected to come back to Blues on a permanent basis, only to eventually join Yeovil Town.

Less of a shock was the failure to keep hold of another fine loan player, John Egan, and how the Shrimpers cope without them will have a huge say in determining their destiny this season.

Luke Prosser was enjoying the best campaign of his career last time around before being forced out by injury and then the arrival of the loanees.

But he will be a key figure again this term and so will be whoever wins the battle to line up alongside him.

They will need to provide a solid platform for the rest of the team, especially if the side again struggles to hit the back of the net on a regular basis.

Last season, Blues bagged 52 goals in their 46 league games, 16 less than the lowest scoring team to secure automatic promotion.

Barry Corr also led the Shrimpers’ goal charts with 13 strikes to his name and that must be bettered if Phil Brown’s side are to go up this season.

The Southend boss is fully aware of the improvements that need to be made and has brought in more striking options with Myles Weston, Shaquile Coulthirst, Lee Barnard, Ellis Brown and Isaac Layne all being signed.

Their form in front of goal, in what looks like being an even tougher League Two this year, will ultimately decide how successful Southend’s season can be.

But with the likes of Ben Coker, John White, Kevan Hurst, Ryan Leonard and Will Atkinson still in the side, along with the previously mentioned Bentley and Corr, Blues certainly have more than enough quality in their ranks to at least be pushing for the play-offs.

Yet the only definite guarantee that can be made at this stage is that, with this being Southend United, nothing will be achieved the easy way.

And another eventful, incident packed 10 months lies in store.