SOUTHEND United manager Phil Brown does not expect defender Julian Bennett to still be with the club next season.

Bennett has been offered a pay as you play deal to remain at Roots Hall after making just one appearance during an injury hit first year with the Shrimpers.

But Brown fully expects the centre-back not to accept the deal.

“It’s unfortunate but because of last season I could only really offer Julian a pay as you play type deal and I don’t expect him to be here now next season which is unfortunate,” said the Shrimpers chief.

“He’s not from the area so he needs certain assurances to be able to accept the deal we’ve put to him and I don’t think that’s going happen.”

Bennett joined Blues on a free transfer at the start of last season but suffered a cruciate ligament injury on his debut against Yeovil Town in the Capital One Cup.

The 29-year-old battled back to resume light training but then suffered another setback which kept him sidelined for the remainder of the season.

He is now expected to depart, leaving Luke Prosser and Adam Thompson as the Shrimpers’ only recognised centre-backs.

But, as was revealed in yesterday’s Echosport, Brown is confident of bringing Jakub Sokolik back to the club on a permanent basis.

And he is still keen to sign striker Kwesi Appiah on loan from Crystal Palace.

“Kwesi is someone we’re keen on but we’re waiting on their manager Tony Pulis to come back from holiday before we can find out any more,” added Brown.