Southend United boss Alvin Martin explained today why the club had decided to part company with Danish midfielder John Nielsen, left

The 26-year-old has recently been playing in Iceland and Martin said he didn't feel it was worth bringing him back as he couldn't command a regular first-team place.

"Nielsen's contract, which had about eight months to run, has been cancelled by mutual consent and he is now a free agent to try to get fixed up somewhere else," said the Blues chief.

"We have kept tabs on his progress while in Iceland and have been told he started off quite well but struggled towards the end of his time there and that standard of football is well below even Third Division level.

"To be brutally honest we don't have the luxury of a big squad with people like Nielsen kicking their heels and only playing in a real emergency.

"I feel we have brought in quality players like Mick Gooding, Mark Beard, Alex Burns and Kevin Maher to fill the central midfield slots and Nielsen would certainly not have pushed them out of the team.

Nielsen was signed by former boss Ronnie Whelan from Danish club Ikast and played 29 League games scoring three goals.

"Nielsen didn't figure much in the first-team last season and I don't think he could offer us anything better than what we've already got.

"The way things are at the moment it's vital that we have a small but vibrant squad - I need to be able to utilise everybody on the books."

Martin said Nielsen was the first of several who could be leaving Roots Hall as he sets out to trim his numbers.

He said: "Nielsen is now off the payroll and having recently signed Dave Morley and Barry Conlon from Manchester City I have to be prepared to let others go if offers come in.

"At the moment no club has shown interest in any of the players who are currently out of the side but that could change and we will need to be ready to move if and when that happens."

Meanwhile Martin is still anxiously waiting to see if Burns, who missed Tuesday night's 4-0 Worthington Cup hammering by Coventry City, will have recovered from a badly bruised foot in time for Saturday's tough trip to Swansea.

He said: "Alex is hobbling around and still in a lot of discomfort - I wouldn't rate his chances of making it for the weekend very good at the moment."

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