RICKY Duncan insists he learnt valuable lessons from his spell as caretaker manager at Southend United.

Duncan took control for the Shrimpers for the 2-0 defeat against Shrewsbury Town in late March following the departure of Chris Powell.

And the temporary role enabled Duncan to see first hand what is needed for young players to push on into the first team at Roots Hall.

“I came down after it was announced Kevin (Bond) was coming in, stood in front of a big board and wrote down what was needed from an academy player to progress,” said Duncan.

“One of the most important things is mentality because you have to be strong to deal with what’s thrown at you.

“You have to be disciplined and focused too so we will now work on making them all tougher and more robust.

“We do have robust players coming through and we have to make sure they can handle it.

“But the biggest thing for me next year is mentality, discipline and to focus on being a professional rather than just talking about it.”

Duncan saw a number of Shrimpers’ players feature for the first team last season.

However, he remains more determined than ever to bring even more youngsters through the ranks at Roots Hall.

“I’ve grown in the last year too in this environment and I know now at 54 what I want and where I want to take it,” said Duncan.

“I’m more robust and more assertive.

“I’m very passionate about getting players through and if I have to knock a few walls down to get there and have a few rows then I will.

“I believe in it so much and there is no reason why these boys can’t make it.

“We have players here who are good enough so we don’t always need to look elsewhere.

“If we get that mentality through the club it will be great. I’m more determined than ever and I would love to see six or seven Elvis’ out there.

“You won’t ever get 11 but to get six would mean I was over the moon. We have the players but we have to look at the top end and how to keep on developing our players which is my next challenge.”