SOUTHEND United’s academy manager Ricky Duncan feels Richard Taylor can force his way back into the first team next season.

The 19-year-old centre-back made three appearances for the Shrimpers last season but did not make a single match day squad following a 4-2 defeat at Bristol Rovers in December.

However, Duncan is certain Taylor – whose contract has been triggered for a further year – can get back into contention.

“Ricard is a left sided centre half and he’s a lad we picked up last year who did really well to get in and around the first team,” said Duncan.

“He was someone I worked with all throughout the summer last summer as well.

“We obviously haven’t been able to do that this year because of the coronavirus pandemic but he’s a lad with ability.

“He has to understand where he is and what professional football is all about but once that has dropped in his head we will have a player.

“He’s physically strong and he understands the game.

“His technical side will keep on improving too but he’s just got to understand where he is.”

Taylor featured for Blues’ under 23 side on a regular basis during the second half of last season but he will be desperate to secure more senior opportunities next term.

The defender was snapped up by the Shrimpers after being released by Burnley.