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ANDREW VORCE - Tuesday, August 25, 2009
After a trio of attempts at the club level, Ian Joyce has finally seemed to find his niche at Southend United.

Joyce left Seton Hall in 2007 and decided to ply his trade across the pond, testing the waters at Grays Athletic FC, Harlow Town, and Championship team Watford, where he was a temporary teammate of USMNT defender Jay DeMerit.

The New Jersey-born goalkeeper finally landed at Southend United where he fulfilled the back up role to veteran keeper Steve Mildenhall. The American was unable to break into any of his previous teams, but finally in September 2008, he got his chance as Mildenhall was ruled out through injury.

"This past season was a great learning curve for many reasons," the big shot-stopper told YA. "It was positively fantastic to get my debut out of the way and the couple of games were awesome."

"There is nothing like playing for the first team and getting time in front of the fans. They always support the club and all of the players however it's best when you're actually on the field and you can show them what you can do, so it was great to gain the support from all of them, who were fantastic."

Joyce his full debut against Crewe Alexandra on the road in a seven-goal thriller in which United notched a 4-3 victory over their League One rivals. Despite a victory under his belt, Joyce was dislodged from his starting position when the club opted to bring in Adam Federici on loan from Reading.

"It was definitely disappointing when the management decided to bring in [Federici]," he revealed. "I came in and thought I did my job quite well, and my management team pulled me and agreed completely with that."

"However, they were considering the timing in the season and our recent play at the time and they decided to opt for a bit more experience as well as more cover in the GK position. I always try to take the positives from everything and this profession can be harsh both on and off the field, I learned a lot about both last season."

That workrate is what Joyce feels will earn him more minutes on the field. With a summer break after the strenuous season under his belt, Joyce was already itching for more. After a week in the sun with his wife in Florida, Joyce was feeling pent up and ready to work.

"We were given a bit of a fitness routine to follow from our strength coach for the five weeks of off season," he explained. "The first few weeks are to rest, which I find tough because I can not take off for more than a couple days so I did light runs and things to keep my legs moving."

The hard work over the summer paid off as Joyce solidified his spot as the back up keeper, and is looking at how to increase his chances at taking the number one shirt. He has a set diagram in his mind and intends to follow his plan to realize his ambitions.

"My goals for this season are quite simple, to get games and a certain amount of experience," the former Pirate said. "I break down the season and set certain goals for each portion of the season however the over all goal I have set is to get more first team games.

"I think that is more than achievable considering the bit of time I got last season as well as there always being the possibility of a short loan period to gain game time as well."

Not only will he be competing with veteran goalkeepers for playing time, Southend will be battling against teams with history and passion surrounding them.

"As for the club we are in a Lleague now that has gained some big clubs through relegation last year," he said. "I think there are four or five teams that have been in the Premiership in the last ten years."

"So we have to compete with these clubs and it's fantastic to be able to do so with the mindset that we can finish in the standings above any of them, which is clearly the club's goal, and ultimately to get into the playoffs or promotion."

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