SOUTHEND United manager Phil Brown insists the time was right for Conor Clifford to leave the club in order to kick start his career.

Clifford has joined Conference leaders Barnet on loan for an initial month.

And Brown feels the midfielder needed the switch to get himself going again.

“Conor needed to get out and get himself games and a move to Barnet will enable him to do that,” said the Shrimpers chief.

“He had drifted out of the team and then the squad in the last couple of months and he really needed ta move to kick start his career again.

“To be honest I think Gary Deegan signing a new deal here was the straw that broke the camel’s back for Conor with us and he saw a wall of bodies in front of him.

“Michael Timlin, Will Atkinson, Ryan Leonard, Jack Payne and Gary Deegan were also vying for selection along with Jack Bridge and the fact we switched to playing two in central midfield also meant there were even less positions to be filled.”

As a result, Clifford soon fell out of favour and had not started a match for the Shrimpers since the 2-0 defeat at Luton Town in mid October.

But, prior to that, the former Chelsea trainee had been in excellent form.

“For the first 10 or 12 games of the season, I thought Conor was fantastic for us and he made it impossible to leave him out,” said Brown.

“After that he dropped off a bit and other players came to the fore, none more so than Jack Payne.

“But Conor’s now been able to get himself a move and it would be great for him to go there and get a promotion on his CV.”

Clifford turned down a switch to Bristol Rovers in order to join Barnet and looks set to make his debut for the Bees against Woking this weekend.

The 23-year-old signed for the Shrimpers in the summer of 2013 and has made 41 appearances for the club.