O’Neill back on Southend’s radar

Pre-season friendly between Blackpool FC and Burnley, at Bloomfield Road.'David Perkins is fended off by Luke O'Neill.  PIC BY ROB LOCK'2-8-2014
Pre-season friendly between Blackpool FC and Burnley, at Bloomfield Road.'David Perkins is fended off by Luke O'Neill. PIC BY ROB LOCK'2-8-2014

Clarets right back Luke O’Neill is a loan target for Southend United.

The 23-year-old was on loan at Roots Hall in January 2014, but his spell was cut short a minute before half-time on his debut against Chesterfield by a thigh injury.

Phil Brown is plotting a return for the former Leicester City youngster, who has only made one League Cup start and an appearance as substitute in the Championship for the Clarets in three seasons since being snapped up by Eddie Howe from Mansfield Town in the summer of 2012.

O’Neill played 15 games for Scunthorpe United and eight for Leyton Orient on loan last season, and is again expected to struggle for first team football at Turf Moor this season.

Kieran Trippier was first-choice right back, and even after his move to Spurs, Sean Dyche moved to land Matt Lowton from Aston Villa.

Before that deal was secured, Dyche, asked whether Trippier’s immediate replacement might be found within the dressing room, he admitted: “I think there are other players in other positions, but right back we’ve been quite light at.

“Reidy (Steven Reid) came in for his experience and his experience of playing right back, but certain situations we knew might come around, so we’ve been looking and searching, making calls for a number of months.”

O’Neill, who has a year remaining on his contract after signing a new two-year deal last summer, may yet feel he can impress Dyche in pre-season, but is at the stage of his career where he needs first team football, so a loan looks a strong probability.