SOUTHEND United’s young players have benefited from training throughout the summer.

Blues have continued to hold coached sessions since the end of last season, with those aged between nine and 11 training on a Tuesday night and the under-12 to under-16 age groups coming in on a Wednesday.

And Blues’ academy manager Ricky Duncan feels the scheme has been a huge success.

“We’ve left it open for the boys and their families to decide if they wanted to come in to train but we’ve been really pleased with the numbers,” said Duncan.

“We’ve had 55 to 65 boys coming in and it’s been good for them.

“We’ve had strength and conditioning sessions, ball work and small sided games and it’s been good to keep them ticking over just one night a week during the summer break.

“It was something we decided to try with the full-time coaches we have here and we all agree it’s been a huge success so we will definitely be doing this again now.”

The Shrimpers’ youth team will resume their training this week and Duncan is confident the club’s youngsters will enjoy another good year.

“The academy is in a really good place and we’re looking forward to getting started again,” said Duncan.

“Last year was great but the challenge now is to make this year better again.

“The most important thing is that we’re producing players for the first team.

“That will always remain the number one priority for us in the academy.”