SOUTHEND United youngster Richard Taylor hopes to be handed a chance to impress at Leyton Orient tonight.

The 18-year-old centre-back signed for the Shrimpers in the summer after being released by Burnley.

And Taylor - who has been in and among the first team squad since signing - is keen to be given his debut this evening in the Trophy.

“It really would mean the world to me to play against Leyton Orient and make my debut,” said the defender.

“I’ve learnt so much since coming to Southend and it’s been great being around the first team but obviously I would love to play.

“I want to be able to show the fans and everyone else what I can do and to try and show I should play more.”

Blues have struggled defensively so far this season and have still not kept a clean sheet since January.

But Taylor does not feel a lack of effort is to blame.

“All of the lads work so hard but, unfortunately, it just hasn’t gone our way so far this season,” said the centre-back.

“Hopefully that can change though and a win tonight can be the start of that.”

Taylor is among those pushing for a place tonight along with Liam Ridgewell, Rob Kiernan, Andre Blackman, Layton Ndukwu and Isaac Hutchinson.

And Taylor could line-up in defence just a year after switching positions.

“I used to play as a striker so centre-back is a fairly new position for me but I’m learning all the time,” said the defender.

“I also played in midfield for Burnley’s under-23s so I can play in a few roles but it’s been going well since I’ve been at the back and I’m enjoying it.”

Taylor will be bidding to show off his skills.

And he is determined to impress after being let go by Burnley.

“It was a really tough time for me and my family,” said Taylor.

“You don’t know what’s going to happen but it did come as a shock.

“There had been a report saying I was destined for greatness and then I was leaving.

“But it gives you extra fire to do well really and I have another chance at Southend, which I’m grateful for, so hopefully I can prove Burnley wrong.”

Blues will be without midfielder Mark Milligan and striker Charlie Kelman tonight as the duo are both away on international duty.

Defender John White is set to miss out with an ankle problem while midfielder Sam Mantom faces a late check on a hamstring injury.