Nash goes to Southend

GERARD Nash last night joined League One leaders Southend United on a month's loan with the possibility of playing Championship football with the Shrimpers next season.

By Derek Davis

GERARD Nash last night joined League One leaders Southend United on a month's loan with the possibility of playing Championship football with the Shrimpers next season.

The move to Steve Tilson's side came hours after Nash was told his contract was not going to be renewed by the Blues in the summer.

Blues boss Joe Royle immediately allowed the Irishman to join the Essex club and admitted it was not a pleasant task telling Nash that he would not be offered a new deal in the summer.

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Royle said: “It is not the easy part of the game telling someone they won't be offered a deal, especially someone like Gerard, who is a lovely boy. He is a champion and if he were my son I would be proud of him but I'm paid to make tough decisions.

“I have no doubt Gerard will go on to make a living from the game at some level or another but two serious knee injuries does take its toll.

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“The emergence of Chris Casement and the possibility of a slightly older centre-half coming in the summer is another consideration.”

Billy Clarke's loan move to Colchester United was rubber-stamped yesterday, with the Irishman saying he was looking forward to the chance of getting goals to help them reach automatic promotion.

Another of the Blues' successful FA Youth Cup-winning squad, defender Sammy Moore, has been offered a new contract and is another who could find himself involved in the first team this season.

If he does Moore would become the eighth member of the squad, although Clarke missed the final through injury, to break into the first team.

Meanwhile, forward Dean McDonald's Blues future hangs in the balance with a decision still to be taken on offering him a new contract, with the current deal running out in the summer.

Royle said: “We were willing to let him go to Hartlepool for a fee but we have to sit down and look closely at Dean. Sometimes he does very well in the first team but other times we are not sure if there is that much room for improvement.

“That is what we have to decide but at the moment the pendulum is tipped in his favour and we will be talking to him in the next 10 days.”

Talks will also be held with Fabian Wilnis, who is expected to discuss a new one-year deal next week.

Although the amount of injuries and red cards has shattered Town's play-off chances, it has had a positive spin-off, with the vast majority of the 18 debutants this season coming from the youth ranks.

Royle said: “It has been the making of some of the youngsters. Our left back problem gave Scott Barron the chance to come in and win a contract. I felt for 18 months that Matt Richards' best position was midfield and he has had the opportunity to go in and show that is the case. I knew last season that Owen Garvan would come in and he has done very well.

“I feel for Lewis (Price) who has been a victim of circumstance and he knows he made a mistake by playing when he was injured and (Shane) Supple has been terrific.”

Royle once again paid tribute to the back-up medical and fitness staff who have worked so hard in getting the unprecedented amount of casualties back up and running.

He said: “Dave Williams and his staff, Matt Byard, Roy Rowe and Simon Thadani in rehab, have worked hard. Dave has said he has never known a season like it and neither have I.”

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