GARY Deegan is back training with Southend United.

The 26-year-old midfielder lined up for the Shrimpers during pre-season.

And, with manager Phil Brown still lacking options in the centre of the park, Deegan has come back in a bid to win a contract.

“We’re short of midfielders at the moment and Ryan Leonard going down injured the other night put the fear of god into me,” said Brown.

“It’s the same when Conor Clifford goes in to a challenge because we don’t really have anyone else to play in there at the moment.

“Will Atkinson and Michael Timlin are both out injured and I don’t want to be putting the kids in at this stage.

“You don’t win leagues with just kids, you need to have some experience and you saw that with AFC Wimbledon the other night.

“With that in mind, I would like to maybe look at bringing in another midfielder and Gary has come back in to train for us to have another look at.”

Irishman Deegan was released by Northampton Town at the end of last season after making 30 appearances for the Cobblers.

The 26-year-old had previously played for Hibernian and Coventry City after coming up through the ranks in Ireland where he lined up for a handful of clubs.

However, Blues’ options in midfield could soon be boosted by the return of Atkinson, The energetic former Bradford City man has missed Southend’s last two matches with an eye injury he sustained in the Capital One Cup against Walsall.

And he will be checked again by the club’s medical staff today to see whether or not he is yet ready to return to action.

“You have to be careful with eye injuries because they can ruin careers and I will be guided by the medical experts with this one,” said Brown.

“It’s similar to concussion but hopefully Will can be back in action soon because he’s an important player for us.

“The two lads in there at the moment are pulling up trees but we do still need more options in there and Gary could possibly be one we may look to offer a contract to.”

Blues will be without Timlin for another couple of months after he dislocated his elbow in a pre-season friendly against Tottenham Hotspur.