NATHAN Ralph is already readying himself for what he expects to be a big season for Southend United.

The 29-year-old defender missed the final 11 games of the previous campaign with a thigh problem.

And Ralph is already back training for what lies in store next term.

“I didn’t play at the end of the season so I felt like I needed to continue ticking over, doing one or two sessions a week,” said Ralph.

“I’ve been doing that and within the next week or two I’ll gradually start building it up before pre-season begins in late June.”

Ralph saw his season ended in mid-March last time around.

But he could have played on the final day of the campaign if required.

“I was fit and I trained for the last week of the season so I could’ve played against Torquay if needed,” explained Ralph.

“It was decided it wasn’t worth risking it which I felt was fair enough and now we’re looking forward to next year.”

Blues ended the previous season strongly following Kevin Maher’s appointment as head coach.

And Ralph is determined to make the next campaign one to remember.

“It’s going to be a big year for Southend,” said Ralph.

“With the players that came in last year and the management plus the positive way the club was looking it’s going to be big.

“We’ve already signed some good players in the off season too so it’s looking positive and we’re looking forward to taking it to another level.”

Ralph has been with the Shrimpers since 2019 and has made 56 appearances during an injury hit spell.