Southend United went agonisingly close to qualifying for the Sky Bet League One play-offs, finishing the 2016/17 campaign just one-point behind sixth-placed Millwall – who were ultimately promoted to the Championship.
Phil Brown must look to improve his squad over the course of the summer, so Southend can once again challenge towards the top of the League One table in 12-months time.
The Shrimpers must be shrewd with their money this summer, adding a few quality additions, along with padding out their squad with free agents from around the Football League.
One player who Brown should be turning to this summer is Stephen Darby, who Bradford City have recently released following the end of his contract at Valley Parade.
Darby featured on 29 occasions under Stuart McCall for Bradford last season, as the Bantams went within 90-minutes of returning to the Championship for the first time since 2004.
The 28-year old has bags of experience in the Football League, and helped Bradford to promotion in League Two during the 2012/13, as well as playing a part as the Bantams established themselves in the third-tier.
Since his arrival at Valley Parade in 2012, Darby has made 239 appearances for Bradford.
Southend’s summer will be interesting to watch, to see where Brown looks to recruit during the transfer window and the calibre of player he targets, as he looks to improve on this season’s seventh-placed finish.
With Darby set to become a free agent this summer, Southend must make a move for the defender, as his experience could be vital in Brown’s side moving to the next level.