Southend midfielder Kane Ferdinand has signed his first professional contract after penning a two-and-a-half-year deal.
The 18-year-old, who came through the Shrimpers youth system, made his debut in January and has gone on to make 14 appearances, scoring once in last month's 3-2 home win over Wycombe.
United boss Paul Sturrock told the club's official website: "He's got a bright future in the game and has already established himself as an important member of our squad.
"There were other sides interested in securing him next season from higher divisions so we are glad that Kane has decided to commit himself to this football club so he can continue his development at Roots Hall."
Ferdinand has been included in the Republic of Ireland Under-19s squad for their match against Cyprus this weekend, but Sturrock will attempt to get him released in order to play in the Blues' clash with Stockport.