KEVIN Bond feels Southend United have made a statement to the rest of League One by snapping up Australia skipper Mark Milligan.

The defensive midfielder, who has played at four World Cups, joined Blues earlier this week.

And Bond believes Milligan will prove to be a big asset for the Shrimpers.

“He’s a great signing for us,” said Bond.

“He is the current captain for Australia, he’s played all sorts of matches at the highest level and he’s a real serious footballing person.

“He really impressed me and is somebody who I’ve been familiar with for quite a while now.

“I’d been tempted to buy him previously at other clubs I’ve been at.

“I hope he will be a terrific signing for us and I would like to think it is a statement of the club’s intent.”

Milligan, 33, has won 70 caps for his country and has played for clubs in Australia, Japan, China and the Middle East before lining up for Hibernian in the Scottish Premier League last season.

And Bond believes Milligan’s experience will be key for Blues.

“He’s been there and done it,” said Bond.

“He will be the type of person that when he talks everybody will listen and will look up to him.

“He will have everybody’s respect and he certainly will after he’s been around the place for a while and people see what he’s about.

“There won’t be anything that goes on around him that he hasn’t seen or done before so it is that experience that will be vital for us.”

The midfielder, who can also play at centre-back, has signed a one-year deal with the option of a further 12 months.

After that, it is intended that Milligan will remain with the club for at least a further two years in a coaching role within the academy or the Shrimpers’ first team.

But Milligan’s main focus for now will be on the pitch, where Bond hopes his versatility will boost Blues.

“He can play at the back and he can play in midfield, but I do see him more of a midfield player in the central role,” said Bond.

“He will be really key in that spine down the middle of the pitch. He has know how, he can smell it and he knows the right thing to do in certain situations.

“That’s where I really see him. I know he can play, in truth, anywhere across the back which I know he has done and it’s nice to have that versatility. But that wasn’t the main thing about signing Mark, it’s his ability and I see him in the middle of the park.”