Barnard before Southampton
Blues chairman Ron Martin has insisted that former striker Lee Barnard, now with the Saints, would not have given his all if not allowed to leave. Not so says the good Lord. Barnard: Lee Barnard insists he would not have downed tools if he had stayed with Southend United. The striker left Blues to join Southampton for £175,000 during the January transfer window and could face his former side this weekend if he passes a late fitness test. But, ahead of that showdown at the St Mary's Stadium, Barnard has hit back at suggestions made by Blues' football consultant Billy Jennings at a fans' question and answer session which suggested the forward would have stopped working for Southend if he had not been allowed to leave. "I saw that comment and I was very disappointed by it because I certainly never said that. I never asked to leave Southend and I would not have downed tools if I had stayed. I enjoyed my time there and if there had been money going in to the team with the new stadium being built then I would have been happy to stay. But things got bad and I'm an ambitious player who the had chance to progress my career by going to a club like Southampton. I always gave my all for Southend and I have happy memories from my time there. There are a lot of nice people at the club and I'm looking forward to seeing them again on Saturday." "Fingers crossed I will recover in time because I haven't missed a game through injury this year, but I'm struggling with it at the moment. I've tweaked some ligaments but it's nothing too serious and we will just have to wait and see if it settles down in time." If Barnard gets the nod, he will be looking to add to his already impressive tally of 26 goals for the season. He netted 17 of those for Blues before leaving and has been keen to continue his good form with the Saints. "I've got nine goals so far and it's been going well. It's been a bit frustrating coming in and out of the team but that's what to be expected when there are a lot of good players trying to get in to the team." Without Barnard, Blues — who were 14th when he left — triumphed just twice in 20 games and have been relegated to League Two. And the former Tottenham Hotspur forward has been saddened by Southend's struggles. "I was praying they were going to stay up and I'm gutted they haven't. With respect to the other teams down there, I thought Southend were too good to go down but the financial problems haven't helped. They meant the manager couldn't get players in at times but I'm sure they will bounce back next season and I really hope they do. Southend is a very good club and everyone was great towards me during my two years there so I want to see them doing well again."
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