SOUTHEND United manager Phil Brown does not expect to sign Rangers midfielder Harry Forrester.

The 26-year-old was a major transfer target for Blues at the start of the summer before he was believed to have chosen to fight for his future at Ibrox.

However, reports at the weekend claimed Forrester could still be heading to Roots Hall - but Brown insists a move is now unlikely.

“Harry poured cold water on it but if we could rekindle it then of course I would still be interested,” said Brown.

“But we’ve spent our money in that area now with Michael Kightly and we need a centre-back and a holding midfielder more than anything else.”

Forrester was with Aston Villa as a youngster and also spent time on loan with Kilmarnock before joining Brentford in 2011.

The midfielder spent two seasons with the Bees before being snapped up by Doncaster Rovers.

He then joined Rangers - ahead of a switch to Southend - in 2016 but has fallen out of favour under Pedro Caixinha and had seemed destined to leave Ibrox before appearing to have a change of heart.

Blues were then able to bring Kightly back to Roots Hall on a three-year contract following his release from Burnley.

And Brown has been happy with the winger’s form in pre-season.

“I’m excited by the way Michael has been playing and I think we’re going to create more chances with him in the team,” said the 58-year-old.

“He’s capable of opening doors for us and it’s up to the strikers to be able to walk through them by taking the opportunities coming their way.

“I never read too much into pre-season but I do think we need to get sharper in front of goal.

“We saw that again on Saturday but it was good to see Kights get 90 minutes and one or two others as well.”

That included midfielder Ryan Leonard who Brown hopes will now be able to focus on Blues following interest from Sheffield United.

“We’ve had our trials and tribulations with Lenny but we got 90 minutes from him so we’re moving in the right direction,” said Brown.

“Hopefully the purchase of the Oxford midfielder for Sheffield United will also settle things down a bit.”