MATT Rush has gone from scoring goals to achieving them after being handed his first professional contract at Southend United.

The 19-year-old striker, who has made eight appearances for the first team this season, has been offered a new deal to remain at Roots Hall.

And Rush feels Blues is a fine place for young players to be.

“It’s what I’ve worked for all season,” said the forward.

“It was the number one goal really and is what every young player wants.

“At the moment everyone can see there’s a pathway into the first-team and, with the amount of contracts given out, Ron (Martin) obviously believes in us so as a player it’s the perfect place to be at the moment.”

Rush has scored more than 50 goals in the past two seasons for Blues’ under 18 and under 23s side and also impressed while on loan at Harlow Town.

But it pushing into the Shrimpers first team which pleased Rush most.

“It’s been a dream come true, especially my debut coming on at Sunderland because it doesn’t really get any better than that,” said Rush.

“It made me think I want to do this every week and be in and around the first-team, which I have been for five months now.

“It’s where I want to be.

“I enjoy playing for the under 23s but first-team is real football where every single game you’re fighting for three points and that’s what I want.”

Rush - who was brought up in Wickford and went to Bromfords School - has been with the Shrimpers since signing for the under 14s.

And he was keen to thank those who have helped him work his way the ranks at Roots Hall.

“In my youth team career Dave Huzzey and Danny Heath helped me out and developed my game a lot,” said Rush.

“This year Craig Fagan has been brilliant really.

“He’s always free to do extra work after training and no matter what it is everything has to be perfect.

“You have to work hard for him which is a really good thing.

“He keeps telling me to work hard and he’s obviously done it in the game and in the Premier League.

“I follow what he says and after every game he let’s you know what was good and bad.

“If I’ve not had a good game he’ll tell me which as a player is what you want.

“And the gaffer (Sol Campbell) has given people opportunities so there’s coaches at the club who believe in young players.”

The Shrimpers are still waiting to discover when they will be back in action.

But Rush insists he will be ready to go whenever the Football League resumes.

“If we come back at the end of this season or at start of the new season I want to show what I can do and show that I deserve the contract,” said Rush.

“I’ll be ready and I can’t wait to repay the faith that’s been shown in me in the first team.”