Alan Pardew admits it 'hurts' to see former West Ham trainee Freddy Eastwood banging in the goals for Southend - and intends to keep a close eye on the striker.
The 23-year-old was released by the east London club in the summer of 2003, just before Pardew took charge at Upton Park.
Having then plied is trade at non-league Grays Athletic before a move to Roots Hall, Eastwood is now one of the hottest young prospects in the Coca-Cola Championship - having blasted in a stunning free-kick to knock holders Manchester United out of the Carling Cup earlier this week.
Although the Shrimpers are keen to hold onto their prized asset, several Barclays Premiership clubs are already understood to have expressed an interest.
Pardew has certainly been impressed.
'I have sent many scouts to look at him and the reports come back to suggest that he has a very good chance,' said Pardew, who took over in late October 2003.
'Of course he is an old boy of ours and that hurts as you do not want to let good people go.
'Sometimes players come on a little bit later. By his own admission, Freddy has nailed himself down more as a professional.'
Pardew added: 'We will keep watching and reviewing him.'