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Ball Delighted With Defender's Progress

Kevin Ball has praised John Egan's comeback from injury after the young defender scored a wonder goal in League Two while on loan at Southend United.

After recently joining Southend United on loan, Sunderland defender John Egan has taken no time making an impression. With the Shrimpers 2-0 down with half-an-hour to go away to Scunthorpe United, Egan controlled a clearance around 35-yards out and when the ball popped up he hit a sensational dipping volley past home goalkeeper Sam Slocombe;

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Southend went on to pull the game back to 2-2 to earn a valuable point and with the defender making such a good start to his loan spell, Kevin Ball has praised the defender for how he recovered from a serious leg break in November 2012 whilst on-loan at Bradford City.

Speaking to safc.com, Ball noted how Egan changed his game in his first game back from injury to help ease himself back into playing after such a long spell out;

His first game back from injury [against West Brom] was really interesting to watch because John played like an old-fashioned centre-back, heading and clearing.

After 20 minutes of the game I commented on that to Robbie [Stockdale] but we didn't say anything to John - we just left him to it.

He said afterwards that he just wanted to get back into things after we told him we noticed that because he can play out from the back and is a technically good player.

In the next game, against Arsenal, we had the old John Egan back - he was playing the ball out from the game and passing it. All he needed was games.

After the central defender recovered from another set-back due to an ankle injury and started playing regularly again, it wasn't long before he was back in demand, with League Two Southend winning the race for his services;

John had another little niggle with his ankle which curtailed his appearances, but as soon as he got a good run of games people wanted him.

I spoke to [Southend manager] Phil Brown after John's first game; he was delighted with him and said he was exactly what they needed - that's a compliment to John and nice to hear from Phil.

He's had a few games down there now and played for Ireland as well and we're delighted for him.

Brown himself praised Egan's goal against Scunthorpe and said it was that goal that gave his team the confidence to get back into the game;

John Egan's goal was absolutely superb. It sat up brilliantly and no goalkeeper was going to save that.

I didn't bring him to the club to score goals, but my word it was an absolutely brilliant strike.

That gave everyone the confidence and we continued to play well and deserved the second goal.

The 21-year-old is out of contract in the summer and it will be interesting to see if the Irish under-21 international continues to impress enough at Southend to earn another contract extension at the Stadium of Light.