Tilson to fight Francis exit

Shrimpers boss eager to keep hold of key defender

Francis: Still wanted at Southend

Steve Tilson has signalled his intent to keep unsettled right-back Simon Francis at Southend.

The 25-year-old has another year left on his contract but has admitted he wants to leave the Blues this summer following their relegation to League Two.

Tilson signed Francis from Sheffield United in 2006 and the former Bradford trainee is eager to be back playing in the Championship or League One after making 180 appearances for the Shrimpers.

But Tilson is determined to persuade the club's player of the year last season to stay at Roots Hall.

"Simon had a good season last year and of course I hope he's still here next season," Tilson told the Echo.

Important

"Obviously I appreciate that every player wants to play at the highest level but I signed Simon four years ago and he still remains an important part of my team.

"It is no surprise that other sides have enquired about him already but it would be really good for the team if he stayed."

Should Tilson succeed then Francis could leave on a free transfer when his contract expires next year while the Shrimpers could command a fee if he left this summer.

Tilson is also busy trying to sort out the futures of goalkeeper Steve Mildenhall, skipper Adam Barrett, and midfield pair Alan McCormack and Franck Moussa.