Former Blues' keeper Simon Royce is now enjoying life as Premiership outfit Charlton's reserve goalkeeper. However, the Southend-based shot-stopper doesn't intend to remain second best for long.

Simon Royce is a man on a Premiership mission.

Royce, who spent nearly seven years with Southend United, moved to Premier League new boys Charlton Athletic during the summer and is currently understudy to the Addicks' highly-rated No 1 Sasa Illic.

But the 27-year-old, who quit Roots Hall for The Valley on a free transfer following the expiry of his Southend contract, is already plotting to make the First team jersey his own.

"I'm confident I can become Charlton's first-choice keeper. All I need is one chance to show what I can do," he said.

"It's a very similar situation to when I first joined Southend from Heybridge Swifts and Paul Sansome was the established No 1 at Roots Hall.

"Eventually I got my chance in goal and never looked back, keeping the first team jersey for the next four years."

Royce was sad to leave the Blues, but needed to get away from Roots Hall to give his career a new lease of life following the Shrimpers' relegation to Division Three last term.

"My form had dipped at Southend and I felt that I was going a bit stale. I had a very frustrating last season and found it difficult to keep my head up.

"I decided that I had to get away and after kicking my heels at home for a few months Charlton rang me up and offered me a two-year contract. It was a complete surprise.

"Watford were also interested in signing me and offered me a better deal financially, but I couldn't resist the lure of playing for a Premiership club," he said.

Life with the top flight's surprise packet is understandably enjoyable for Royce, who still lives in the Southend area.

He said: "The move was made easier for me because I know a lot of the players here already, Chris Powell, Keith Jones and Tony Barness are all Southend old boys.

"I've been playing for the reserves in the Avon Insurance Combination League and have performed very well so far keeping four clean sheets.

"The combination is the highest level of reserve team football you can compete in and Charlton are the reigning champions.

"We beat West Ham 4-0 the other night and they had players like Julian Dicks and Craig Forrest in their side, which makes you realise the quality you're up against."

Royce believes his Premiership chance isn't far away and he made the first team squad for the first time on Tuesday night, sitting on the bench for Charlton's 1-0 Worthington Cup win over QPR.

"I've been doing really well since I've been here and I think the manager Alan Curbishley has taken notice.

"I rate the boss very highly and he is one of the best managers I have ever worked with.

"He is very approachable and is a real player's man."

In his time at Roots Hall, Royce hoped to win promotion to the Premiership with Southend as the Seasiders briefly flirted with the First Division promotion play-offs.

"There were times at Southend when we did well in the First Division, but the gulf between Southend and Charlton is quite big," he explained.

"Charlton are seen by many as a 'smaller club', especially in the Premiership next to your Arsenals and Manchester Uniteds, but the major advantage they have over Southend is that they've got a bit of money to spend.

"The training methods are pretty much the same, but we don't play as many five-a-sides and tend to concentrate more on set pieces, which in the Premiership need to be utilised.

Royce, who still gets ribbed by his team mates for the night he played for a Southend team which thumped Charlton 3-0 at The Valley a few years ago, is eager to make the practice pay off.

He said: "I want to force my way into Charlton's first team, even if it means only playing one game so I can fulfill all my ambitions and say I've played in the Premiership."

Picture: Making a point - former Roots Hall favourite Simon Royce is out to claim his position as Charlton's first choice keeper.

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