SOUTHEND United left-back Tom Clifford has signed a one year deal with the Shrimpers.

Clifford impressed during the final eight games of last season.

And the 21-year-old is pleased to have been rewarded with a new deal which also includes the option of a further 12 months.

“I’ve been at the club for 10 years now so it’s a privilege to play for the first team and I’m really pleased everything is sorted,” said Clifford.

“It’s been going on for a while but I’m pleased to have got the deal done because there are many footballers right now who haven’t got a club.

“I’m happy I can start looking ahead to next season.”

Clifford has been with the Shrimpers since the age of 10.

But his long awaited opportunity in the first team was cut short by the coronavirus pandemic which led to the season being prematurely suspended in March.

“I was really starting to get a grip of the football so I was gutted when the season had to stop, especially as I was growing in confidence in every game,” said Clifford.

“It was very frustrating that we didn’t get to finish the season because I think it would have been very beneficial for me to hopefully have got a few more games under my belt.

“But obviously the health and safety of people are important so it’s understandable we couldn’t carry on.”

Blues will be back in League Two when they finally return to action next season.

And Clifford is determined to build on his fine end to last season which saw him finish third in the player of the year poll which was conducted by Echosport.

“Next season hopefully I play as many games as possible,” said Clifford, who was with Tottenham Hotspur before impressing in a trial game for Blues.

“As a team we also want to do as well as we can to finish as high in the table as possible.”

Clifford follows Lewis Gard in signing a new deal with Blues.