SOUTHEND United manager Chris Powell was full of smiles after keeping Mark Oxley at the club.

Oxley has signed a new three year contract at Roots Hall.

And Powell is thrilled to have got the deal done.

“I’m really pleased that Mark has committed himself to the club,” said Powell.

“Everyone can see what a talented goalkeeper he is.

“I think he grew over the course of last season to end up as a key player for me and also as player of the season.

“He’s very proud to get clean sheets and he managed to get 10 in my 18 games.

“No doubt he was a key component in us winning games and getting points to elevate us into the top 10, so I was really keen for Mark to stay.

“I’m pleased that’s the case and I’m sure our fans are too.”

Oxley started every league game for the Shrimpers last term and pulled off a number of fine saves during a memorable campaign for the custodian.

And Powell feels having such a competent goalkeeper is a huge bonus for Blues.

“Mark plays in a key area and if you get that right you’re almost halfway there because having a good goalkeeper at this level is very important,” said Powell.

“We definitely have one now and that helps us in our rebuilding of a new squad for next season so this is great news and I’m very happy.”

Oxley joined Blues in the summer of 2016 but endured an injury hit first season with the club.

The 27-year-old suffered an elbow problem just before Christmas and was eventually ruled out for the rest of that campaign.

However, Oxley regained full fitness in the summer and established himself as a regular between the sticks which culminated in him finding his best form and winning player of the year.

That led to rumoured interest from elsewhere but Shrimpers chairman Ron Martin was able to keep hold of Oxley after offering him what he described as the best contract offer for a goalkeeper in League One.

>FORMER Southend United midfielder Michael Timlin has been linked with a move to Stevenage.

Timlin was released by Blues last month having made 262 appearances for the club.