SHAKERS left-back Jamie Stuart has joined Third Division rivals Southend United writes PHIL THORP.

The 26-year-old former England Under-21 star is the latest player to get on the Gigg Lane summer transfer merry-go-round in a move that sees him return to his south-east roots.

Stuart was still under contract with the Shakers, who won't receive a fee, but domestic commitments are believed to have spurred the move.

Jamie and his wife, who have a young baby daughter, are both Londoners and wanted to be closer to their respective families so new Shrimpers boss Steve Wignall wasted no time in moving in for the tenacious full back.

Stuart's departure means his final appearance in a Bury shirt was one he'll want to forget.

He was sent off against AFC Bournemouth in the 0-0 home leg play-off semi-final early last month for raising his arm to Wade Elliott after the Cherries midfielder had broken the Bury man's nose with a flying elbow.

But overall, Stuart will have fond memories of his time in Lancashire after Andy Preece gave him a chance to resurrect a career that looked to be heading nowhere.

Southwark-born, he began his career with Charlton Athletic where he made 63 first team starts in a three year spell at The Valley where he earned an England Under-21 call-up.


But his hopes of reaching the top in the game came shuddering to a halt when he tested positive for drugs and was banned from football for six months.

On his return to the game he signed for Millwall but was released from the New Den after making 50 appearances.

After trials with Northampton Town and Cambridge United came to nothing he headed north to Gigg Lane following the £200,000 sale of Chris Armstrong to Oldham Athletic, quickly earning a contract after a fine run of form.

Stuart is the second left back to leave the club in a matter of months following promising youngster Gary Evans' decision to turn his back on professional football in March.

It will be interesting to see if manager Andy Preece moves to bring in a ready made replacement during the summer.

Experienced Colin Woodthorpe could slot into the position while George Clegg has also done well in the wing-back role towards the end of the season.

But don't rule out youngster Tom Kennedy making a concerted bid for a first team slot.

The teenager - son of former Shakers favourite Keith Kennedy - has been mightily impressive in the reserves and could force himself into the reckoning if he does the business in the pre-season build-up.