STEVE Arnold has been overwhelmed by the level of support Southend United have received this season and is already keen to repay their backing next term.

Arnold is the favourite to be named Blues’ player of the year after a number of consistent displays between the sticks.

And the 32-year-old is hugely appreciative of the support coming his way.

“I remember being shocked in the first couple of games with the number of fans we had,” said Arnold.

“It’s going to sound cheesy but I couldn’t believe just how good the support was.

“Even through the tough times, like Chesterfield at home, there were still four or five thousand there wanting to cheer us on.

“It’s been amazing and playing in front of them every week really gets you going.

“The away support is brilliant as well and in my whole career I’ve never had the following like we get for our games.

"We’re really lucky as players to have that backing.”

Blues currently sit 12th in the National League standings, with just one game left to go.

But Arnold is determined to make sure the Shrimpers are higher up the table next season.

“I can’t wait for next season already,” said Arnold.

“I’m 32 nearly 33 and I want to get promoted as many times as I can in the next four or five years.

“I honestly believe we can be up there and be there or thereabouts next year.

“My goal is to get promoted with Southend and I’m really excited to get next season started.”

However, Blues must first finish the current campaign which ends at home to Torquay United on Sunday.

And Arnold has found it strange having to go 13 days without a game before the final fixture.

“It’s really strange,” said the Shrimpers custodian.

“You have a couple of days off and it starts to feel like it’s already the end of the season.

“But we’ve got one more game to go still and we want to do well in it because we’ve got to start thinking of next year now.

"The players who will be here next year are playing for spots in the team and those who won't be here are playing for their futures.

“But you want to go out with that winning feeling and have that feel good factor around the place.”

The Shrimpers have certainly improved the mood around Roots Hall during the second half of the campaign.

And Arnold has thoroughly enjoyed the campaign.

“Personally it’s been really good for me,” said Arnold.

“I put that down to not being injured for the first time in I don’t know how long and Reece (Ottley) the goalie coach looking after me wonderfully well as I’m getting older.

“But all the staff have been good with me in fairness. “