CANVEY Island boss Danny Heale has backed four former Southend United starlets to contribute to his team’s success this year.

Dan King, Charlie Barlow, Aaron Tatham and Marlon Agyakwa all played for the Blues in their youth but will now be plying their trade for Canvey in the Ryman Premier.

Right-back King and midfielder Barlow were regulars for the under-18 side but didn’t win a professional deal at Roots Hall. They are now part of the club’s Community and Educational Trust department.

And Blues released defender Tatham and winger Agyakwa at the end of last season.

But Heale is hopeful all four can make a huge impact this campaign.

“They have done really well since they joined. We had King and Barlow here on work experience at the end of last season and they were impressive and we are pleased the other two lads joined up with us too.

“They are all in their teens so are still learning their trade, but we feel they can come on a lot here.”

All four started on the bench for Canvey in their 5-1 defeat to Conference Premier side Dartford on Saturday.

Canvey had taken the lead thanks to Jay Curran’s sublime flick, but a terrific equaliser and a defensive error saw Dartford take a 2-1 lead before the visitors ran away with the match after the break.

“We didn’t play well in the second half,” said Heale. “The boys know they let themselves down, but they will learn and come back better. We were great in the first half and I don’t want to resort to clichés, but this was definitely a game of two halves.

“We are very close to the start of the season and I think we are just about ready. We shouldn’t look into this result, we are not far away from where we want to be. This was always going to be difficult and we showed we were capable in the first half. We can’t wait for the season to start.”

Heale also confirmed the Gulls were close to bringing in Brentford youth keeper Melvin Minter, to provide competition for West Ham United teenager Dan Boness.