SOUTHEND United manager Phil Brown is hopeful his four players soon to be out of contract will be staying with the Shrimpers.

Defenders John White, Anton Ferdinand and Adam Thompson all remain in talks about new deals at Roots Hall along with midfielder Will Atkinson.

And Brown hopes all of the players will agree new contracts.

“We’re still in talks and I’m hopeful all four of the players will agree to stay,” said Brown.

“I’m meeting with the agents of Adam Thompson and Will Atkinson on Monday morning and hope to be able to move things along.

“We’re also still in talks with John and Anton and we want them all to stay because they all showed last season they can play at the highest level in League One if not higher.

“We want them to stay and it’s important they do because having to replace all four of them in the transfer market would be very difficult and it’s not something we want to do.”

Ferdinand, Thompson and Atkinson were all regular starters for the Shrimpers last season.

And Brown wants them to still be a part of things next term.

“We’re looking to improve next season but we’re looking to improve by 15 points next season and not just the one we missed the play-offs by,” said the 57-year-old.

“For that to happen I think we need to keep hold of our players and then make sure we bring in new players who are better than the ones we let go, like David Mooney and Luke O’Neill.”

As a result, Brown is looking to strengthen his squad and he hopes to make more progress with two transfer targets in the next few days.

“I’m talking to two players and hope things can move on this week,” said Brown.

“One of the players is an attacking midfielder who can also play as a number 10 while the other one is an attacking winger.

“But we’re looking to strengthen wherever we possibly can during the summer.”

>Former Southend United midfielder Jack Payne will be bidding to become a Premier League player this afternoon.

Payne will be in the Huddersfield Town squad for the Championship play-off final against Reading at Wembley.

The 22-year-old, who came through the youth ranks at Roots Hall, quit the Shrimpers to join Huddersfield at the end of last season.

He has made 28 appearances this term.