HARRY Phillips is determined to make a breakthrough at Southend United this season.

The 21-year-old creative midfielder has long been highly rated in the youth ranks at Roots Hall but has yet to make his first team debut.

However, Phillips has been with Kevin Bond’s side during pre-season and is keen to earn himself an opportunity to impress once the League One campaign gets underway.

“I’ve enjoyed being with the first team and the step up in quality and detail,” said the Wickford-based Phillips, who has been with the Shrimpers since the age of nine.

“I feel like my game is improving which is good but I have to keep it going because I want to be part of the first team squad this season.

“I want to try and make my debut and then earn my place as a regular too.”

Phillips will again be part of the Blues squad for tomorrow’s pre-season friendly at Dagenham & Redbridge.

And he is enjoying the preparations for the forthcoming season.

“Pre-season has been hard but I’m starting to feel a lot fitter which is obviously what it’s all about,” said Phillips.

“The friendlies have been enjoyable too.

“It’s all about getting minutes and hopefully I can get some more starting with the game against Dagenham tomorrow.”

Phillips has predominantly featured as an attacking midfielder throughout his time in the Shrimpers’ youth set-up.

But Phillips lined up in a deeper midfield role against Weymouth in last week’s pre-season friendly and is keen to add to his game.

“I’m enjoying playing deeper than normal,” said Phillips.

“I’ve played mostly as a number 10 but I am enjoying it.

“I feel like I understand the position but I am still learning about playing there too. It’s good to be able to play and understand different positions.”

Phillips could again be used in a deeper role against National League side Dagenham tomorrow but Simon Cox and Timothee Dieng will miss out through calf injuries.

Shrimpers boss Kevin Bond confirmed there was a slight chance Luke Hyam, who has been struggling with a calf problem, could feature.