Southampton this afternoon confirmed the departure of Lee Barnard, who will be returning to former club Southend United.
Barnard, 29, joined Southampton in 2010 from Southend, who were then in League One.
During his spell with the Saints, Barnard formed a formidable partnership with Rickie Lambert, contributing vital goals as the club went in pursuit of League One promotion.
That came in the summer of 2011, with Barnard having scored sixteen times that season, despite a serious ankle injury ruling him out for a large part of the end of the season.
Barnard's injury woes continued to dog his attempts to force his way back into the Southampton side.
His injury meant he did not start the next season for Southampton, whose remarkable early season form in the Championship meant Barnard was limited to cup ties when he returned.
The signing of Billy Sharp reaffirmed that Barnard had fallen out of favour with the south coast side, who finished the season with promotion to the Premier League.
Since then, Barnard has been occasionally representing the Southampton Under-21 team in the U21 Premier League. Clubs are permitted to field three over-age outfielders.
Loan spells with Bournemouth and Oldham Athletic followed, before a return to Southampton in the summer.
Barnard now joins Southend United on loan until the end of the season, with a view to a permanent transfer.
The Shrimpers are currently 5th in League Two.
Speaking to Southend United's official website, Barnard said:
"I’ve come home to the club where I had a fantastic two years before moving on to Southampton."
"I really enjoyed my time here the first time around and I’m just hoping for more of the same this time around, with just as many goals."
"It’s funny how things work out in football. I joined on January 25th in 2008, and now I’m back here a day earlier in 2014."
Barnard will be hoping to be involved in tomorrow's FA Cup fourth round tie, when Southend United host Hull City in a sell-out at their Roots Hall home.
image: © ingythewingy