RYAN Leonard cannot wait to get started at Sheffield United.

The 25-year-old has finally completed a £750,000 switch to the Championship club.

And he is excited to be testing himself at a high level.

“I’ve been playing in League One and League Two for a while and I think this was a step up I needed so I can’t wait to get started,” said Leonard.

“I’m really excited about playing in the Championship and it’s going to be an honour to play for Sheffield United.”

Leonard makes the move to the Blades having spent close to seven years with the Shrimpers.

The midfielder arrived at Roots Hall having been released by Plymouth Argyle in 2011 and developed into one of the very best midfielders in the lower leagues.

His fine form attracted interest from a higher level and saw Leonard subject to ongoing transfer speculation which he admits was far from ideal.

“I would’ve preferred it if everything hadn’t been quite so public but it’s football and these things happen so you just have to get on with it,” said Leonard.

“Being honest I was disappointed when the move to Sheffield United didn’t happen in the summer because I wanted to be playing in the Championship.

“But when it didn’t happen I knuckled down with Southend and I made sure I gave everything I had in every game I played.

“I don’t think anyone could dispute that and I’ve enjoyed the last six months I had at the club but it’s the right time for me to be making this step up.”

Leonard joins a Sheffield United side who won League One with 100 points and have adapted superbly well to the Championship.

Chris Wilder’s side are currently seventh in the standings, just a point outside the play-off positions.

And Leonard - who has signed a three and a half year deal with the Blades - could make his debut in Friday’s local derby against Sheffield Wednesday which is being shown live on Sky Sports.

“It’s certainly an exciting time to be coming in,” said Leonard.

“The team have been doing really well and hopefully I can help that continue during the second half of the season.”