WITH five goals and a whole host of man of the match performances behind him already this season, Southend United midfielder Alan McCor-mack is determined to steer the Shrimpers to promotion.

The tough tackler, who has just been given a sponsored car by Essex Car Rental, was not at Roots Hall when Steve Tilson's side clinched the League One title two years ago.

But he is desperate to sample a similar experience this time around.

"We're doing well and want to get promoted this season," said the Irishman.

"Ideally I'd like to win the league because the boys who did it before have told us all how good it was and what it was like lifting the trophy up in front of the fans at Roots Hall.

"I want to experience those kind of feelings and hopefully I can in May."

The Seasiders are currently well positioned to challenge for an immediate return to the Championship with the fine performances of McCormack a massive factor in the solid start.

He has been among the club's most consistent players and despite the fact he picked up his fifth booking of the season at Northampton Town on Saturday and will now serve a one-match suspension, he is also pleased with his improving disciplinary record.

"When I went on loan to Orient in 2003 my record in terms of cards wasn't the best and I was suspended quite a lot," recalled McCormack.

"I think I played about 11 games, got four yellow and two red cards but I did learn from that. I know people may not agree with that but I have become a lot more disciplined.

"I'm learning how to do that and this season has been my best yet when it comes to cards.

"I do believe I get picked on a bit by referees because they go into games with an idea of who is a dirty player and I think I have that reputation, but I'm doing OK."

Prior to his caution at the Sixfields Stadium, McCor-mack had gone five games without working his way into the referee's notebook, which was his best run since signing for the Shrimpers.

However, McCormack's fiery temperament enhances his game and was what first impressed the scouts of Preston North End when he was playing in Ireland.

"I was with Stella Maris when I got spotted," said the 23-year-old.

"Everything happened really quickly.

"Preston asked me to play for them in Milk Cup and before I knew I was signed up to do the last year of my YTS with them. A year later I was signed up as a professional and it was brilliant."

But despite that initial excitement McCormack went on to only make two starts and 10 substitute appearances during a five-year stint at Deepdale.

"I enjoyed it but it did get quite frustrating towards the end," said the midfielder.

"I wanted to be playing and the fact I wasn't really got to me. People I had been brought up with were playing first team football at their clubs and I wanted to do the same so I have no regrets at all about my decision to leave and come to Southend."

His anxiety to sample first team football saw him join the Shrimpers on loan towards the end of the 2004/05 season and the following year he found himself at Motherwell, playing in the Scottish Premier League.

"Motherwell was great," said McCormack, who play-ed alongside his current Blues team-mates Steve Hammell and Richie Foran while at Fir Park.

"I went there originally for just six months but it eventually got extended to the end of the season.

"I had a knee ligament injury towards the start and was out for about three and a half months but when I came back from that I played every game.

"It's a good standard too. People put it down but I don't know why. It's the same standard as the middle of the Championship and obviously the likes of Rangers and Celtic are even better than that."

Playing north of the border helped McCormack develop as a player and he has continued to impress since returning to Roots Hall last November.

"I really enjoyed my loan spell here and that's what made me want to come back," he said.

"I wasn't involved at Preston; the manager (Paul Simpson) was telling me one thing and then something else would happen so I wanted to get away.

"Paul Brush had a word with me when Preston played Southend. He wasn't tapping me up or anything but was asking about my situation so I told my agent to get involved and that's when it all came around.

"I'm glad it did and I want to keep on helping the team get good results now."

>ESSEX Car Rental are now the official travel partner of Southend United.

They offer a 10 per cent discount to any Shrimpers season card holders and also supply travel to Zoltan Liptak, Dean Austin and the club's media department.

They can be contacted on 01268 775854.