SOUTHEND United manager Phil Brown has revealed how Nile Ranger’s availability ended his interest in signing Tyrone Barnett on a permanent basis.

Barnett - who will be back at Roots Hall with AFC Wimbledon on Monday - ended last season on loan with the Shrimpers, scoring five goals in 20 games.

And Brown had been keen on keeping the 31-year-old, until he eventually opted to bring Ranger to the club before the start of the current campaign.

“I enquired about Tyrone in the summer and I would say it was quite close to being done at one point,” said the Blues boss.

“Tyrone is a good player in his own right.

“We obviously knew all about him because we had him with us on loan for the second half of last season.

“But the deal became a bit expensive after a while.

“And when we were made aware of Nile’s availability we eventually plumped for him.

“That wasn’t down to just the finances though.

“It was also because of Nile’s Premier League pedigree and what we felt he would be able to bring to the party.

“Nile has done well too so hopefully we made the right decision because I think everyone would agree that he’s become an important player for us.”

Ranger has scored three goals in 12 appearances so far this season for the Shrimpers who have not lost any of the 10 league games the striker has started.

But the forward - who signed an extended three and a half year contract at the start of December - is doubtful to figure on Monday against AFC Wimbledon after injuring his thigh in Saturday’s 2-0 triumph at Oldham Athletic.

Ranger - who is more likely to face Charlton Athletic next weekend - is set to be replaced by the experienced Marc-Antoine Fortune in attack while Barnett is also not certain to start for the visitors.

The 31-year-old has scored five goals in 26 appearances this season but has mostly been used as a substitute.

However, Barnett is now pushing for a start after scoring three goals in his last four outings for the Dons.