ANDREW VORCE - Wednesday, December 30, 2009
With the case of most young goalkeepers playing in England, Ian Joyce has been forced to watch from the sidelines as veteran goalkeepers handle first team duty.

Like Brad Guzan at Aston Villa, playing second fiddle to veteran goalkeeper Brad Friedel, Joyce has been learning from 31 year old goalkeeper Steve Mildenhall who is in the middle of a three year contract at Southend United.

Last season Joyce was given a brief chance to shine when Mildenhall went down with a knee injury, making five appearances before Adam Federici was brought on loan from Reading to make 10 appearances for the club at the end of 2008. Joyce was determined to make a better showing in the 2009 campaign.

The young American shot stopper was finally given his chance on Boxing Day, when Steve Mildenhall was forced out of play with a back injury. Joyce received what every professional wishes to get for Christmas, the proverbial nod.

"I found out that I was going to be playing the boxing day match against Colcester the afternoon before, on Christmas day," Joyce told Yanks Abroad.

With Mildenhall not 100% out of action, Joyce says he must be on his toes and be prepared for whatever comes his way.

"We have a bit of a break now from League games as out Millwall match on the second is postponed," he explained. "All I am doing is preparing myself and doing my best to keep my form."

With last season's disappointment of the club opting to bring in another player, Joyce explains that he is not looking ahead and solely playing for the next match.

"This season has been a bit frustrating," he said. "To be fair to [Mildenhall], he has been in pretty good form, but the most that I have been able to do is stay prepared and waiting for my time.

"Now that it has come I am going to grab the opportunity while it lasts."

Bouncing back from a 2-1 home loss to Colchester on his debut, Joyce put in an impressive display as Southend United came from behind to beat Leyton Orient 2-1. Joyce should have his next opportunity at home against Wallsall on January 10th.