By Coral Barry
Southend manager Phil Brown says he expects Rangers target Daniel Bentley to leave the club in the summer.
The goalkeeper has reportedly been attracting the attention of newly-promoted Rangers in Scotland as well as a host of English clubs including Brentford, Burnley and Bournemouth.
Bentley enjoyed an excellent season personally for League One side Southend with ten clean sheets and his performances are now thought to have shot him to the top of Rangers’ wishlist.
The 22-year-old has had to rebuild his career after being released by Arsenal’s youth team in 2008 and Brown has urged his star stopper to decide quickly if he is ready to make the next step up.
“I’ve met with Daniel Bentley and he’s very respectable towards the club and our situation,” said Brown, as quoted by the Southend Echo.
“I expect him to leave if I’m honest and make a career move to a higher level but we ideally need to know soon what he’s decided to do.
“We have Ted Smith here and he’s a firm contender for the number one slot next year but if Dan goes then we will need to bring someone else in as well.
“You can’t have just the one goalkeeper and it’s far healthier to have two of them fighting it out for a start.
“That’s what we’re aiming for but we need to know officially if one of those is going to be Dan.”
Bentley’s current deal with the Shrimpers is due to expire next month and he would be subject to a tribunal fee if he was to join another English club this summer.
However, were he to move abroad, including to a Scottish club, the buyer would only have to pay £250,000 compensation for training costs in accordance with Fifa rules for players aged under 23.
The promising goalkeeper came through the Southend youth ranks and set a club record when he claimed 12 consecutive home clean sheets a year ago as he inspired the Shrimpers to promotion via the League Two play-offs.
Bentley has made 159 appearances in total for Southend and would compete with Rangers’ No.1 Wes Foderingham if he was to make the move to the Ibrox in the summer.
In other Rangers news, Harry Redknapp has given his verdict on “aggro” new Gers recruit Joey Barton.