SOUTHEND United goalkeeper Callum Taylor is keen to kick on after having his contract extended by the Shrimpers.

Taylor made his first team debut as a second half substitute against Coventry City back in February.

And the 18-year-old is thrilled to be remaining at Roots Hall.

“When I heard the news it was a great feeling for me, especially as the past couple of months have been very tough for everyone,” said Taylor.

“I’ve been at the club since I was nine and it was great for me to earn the contract that can take me towards 10 years at the club.

“However as soon as I heard the news my focus went straight onto next season with the main aim now being to earn my first professional contract as soon as I can.”

The Shrimpers have brought through a number of fine goalkeepers in recent seasons with Daniel Bentley, Ted Smith and Nathan Bishop all rising the ranks.

And Taylor is eager to follow in their foot-steps after relishing his first taste of senior football.

“The highlight of the season was undoubtedly every first team game I was involved in, especially my debut,” said Taylor.

“lt’s a day I will never forget but it has only made me hungrier for more success and to have many more experiences like that with Southend and the fans in the future.”

Taylor, who has also represented Northern Ireland, is based in South Woodham Ferrers.

And playing for his home-town club remains extra special for the shot-stopper.

“Since I can remember I’ve been going to watch Southend and my dream was to always step into the pitch,” said Taylor.

“When I first walked into the changing room against Doncaster and saw my name was on the shirt the hunger inside me brewed more than ever before.

“It is everything I’ve worked towards before in my life.

“My debut against Coventry, although short, was the greatest feeling of my life.

“Running onto the Roots Hall pitch and hearing the fans was brilliant for me and my family and the fact it was my dad’s birthday made it even better!

“Even the stick the Coventry fans gave me drove me on and it’s my job to make it a reality week in week out now.”

Taylor was named in six matchdays squad for the Shrimpers before the season was suspended to the coronavirus pandemic.

But the youngster is ready to return whenever clubs are given the green light to resume.

“It was a shame the season got cut off as it did however I feel sharp and ready to go back whenever necessary,” said Taylor.

“Obviously the whole of football is a bit up in the air right now but I’ve been staying as fit and as sharp as I can and I’m ready to go back .

“The experiences I had over this last season is my inspiration to earn similar opportunities in the future.

“My goal is to play or be in and around the first team as much as I can.

“The games I was involved in were huge learning curves for me and they will inspire me to hopefully go on and achieve as much as I can so I help the team as much as possible.”

And Taylor is also hoping he will not have to wait too much longer.

“Right now it’s hugely frustrating for me as I’m sure it is for all footballers,” said Taylor.

“All I want to do is play games and train everyday with the boys. “However the whole country is in the same situation right now and unfortunately there are some more important things.

“Therefore we have to remain patient and sensible and hopefully we can be back to normal and playing football as soon as possible.”