ALEX Woodyard is hoping to stay involved with Southend United’s first team.

The 19-year-old midfielder made his first Blues appearance in 18 months against Dagenham & Redbridge in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy on Tuesday night.

And the youngster does not want to be forced back on to the sidelines.

“It was really frustrating having to wait so long for a game and hopefully I won’t have to do that again,” said Woodyard.

“You train with the team all week but if you’re not doing anything when it gets to the Saturday it can be hard to take.

“But it was good to play with these players on Tuesday night and I thought I did quite well out there.

“I was happy with my performance and, touch wood, I can get another opportunity soon especially as we don’t have too many midfielders available at the moment.”

In fact, Woodyard and Michael Timlin are the only natural midfielders Blues boss Paul Sturrock can call on at this moment in time.

And Woodyard revealed he loved lining up alongside Timlin against the Daggers.

“The game was made much easier for me because I was next to Tims,” said Woodyard, who has come through the youth ranks at Roots Hall.

“He’s an experienced player and he was telling me where to run and where to stand, which was really helpful.

“I wouldn’t say I was nervous before the game, but it had been so long since my last game at this level that you do worry about being able to cope with it all.

“My fitness was never going to be a problem because I’m naturally quite fit and, in the end, I was really pleased with how everything went.”

And his display was also praised by Sturrock.

“Alex has been out on the periphery so far but he came in and did a solid job,” said Sturrock.

“He won his tackles and made sure who he was playing against didn’t get much of the ball, and his passing was good also.”