SOUTHEND United midfielder Renei Batlokwa is eager to shine in pre-season for the Shrimpers after signing his first professional contract at the club.

The attacking 19-year-old has put pen to paper on a 12 month deal which includes the option of another year.

And the youngster is keen to make the most of the opportunity.

“I’m very pleased to have got the deal done and I just want to kick on now and repay the club’s faith in me,” said Batlokwa.

“Last pre-season was a great opportunity to show the manager what I could do and my aim is to replicate that again this season only this time with more consistency so I can earn a place in the squad.

“That’s certainly what I’m working towards and what I want to happen.

“With so many matches going on and players not playing full games to begin with there is always the opportunity to impress in pre-season so I want to be able to make the most of it, “That’s my first aim and then I’ll look to build on things for there.

“But it’s an important year for me and one I want to make sure I do well in.”

Batlokwa’s progress was disrupted by a knee injury last season.

However, he has since regained full fitness and ended the previous campaign in fine form for the under 21s.

Blues boss Phil Brown has since revealed he expects Batlokwa to push for a place in the first team squad next season.

And Batlokwa was pleased to hear he was in the manager’s thoughts.

“It was great to read that and it’s made me even more determined,” said the midfielder.

“I can’t wait to come back in for pre-season and it would be great if I could make the trip to Spain with the first team.”

Batlokwa has been used to travelling this summer after he was also called up by Botswana.

But he did not feature in any of their matches.

“The call up was great,” said Batlokwa.

“Unfortunately it didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to and I’ll be keeping my options open.”