Southend United vs Cambridge United...
Blues switch their attention to the Checkatrade Trophy this evening as they welcome League Two side Cambridge United to Roots Hall in their opening game in Group B.
Colchester United and Southampton u21s make up the rest of the group with all four sides knowing that a victory this evening will put them in good stead to qualify for the next round.
Southend go into the tie off the back of a late 2-1 defeat at home to Charlton while Cambridge picked up a morale-boosting win on the road, winning 1-0 away at Stevenage.
Tonight will be the first competitive meeting between the two sides since March 2015 although Southend did beat The U’s 2-0 at the Abbey Stadium in a pre-season friendly last year.
Southend United: LWLWLD
Cambridge United: WLLDLW
21st March 2015: Southend United 0 vs 0 Cambridge United
26th December 2014: Cambridge United 0 vs 1 (Corr) Southend United
28th March 2005: Cambridge United 0 vs 2 (Prior, Barrett) Southend United
Fitness, suspensions and international call-ups are all hampering Chris Powell at the moment. Up to 12 players are unavailable heading into tonight's game.
Mark Oxley and Michael Kightly will be missing following their red cards against Charlton on Saturday, despite the fact that tonight’s game doesn’t count towards their three-game bans.
An anomaly in the rules means that as they are ‘suspended’ and aren’t allowed to feature, leaving youngster Nathan Bishop to fill in between the sticks for the opening group game.
Michael Klass is expected to feature as boss Chris Powell continues to struggle with a growing list of absentees while loanees Taylor Moore and Harry Bunn may make their full debuts.
Cambridge may look to reintroduce Greg Taylor, Harrison Dunk and former Blues striker Barry Corr after the trio returned to training shortly before the weekend win over Stevenage.
That game came too quick for those three so manager Joe Dunne may look to use this fixture to give them some minutes, with two other former Blues players, Gary Deegan and Jabo Ibhere, set to feature.
Chris Powell, Southend United Manager:
“We have to put in some younger players that’s for certain, but whatever team goes out, as I’ve always said, whether they are playing in the right positions or whether they are doing the job for the team, the one thing they will do is give their absolute all for me and their teammates.
“The game is going to be tougher than we thought it would be because we do have a number of injuries and suspensions, but it’s a road to Wembley. Watching it last year and looking at Lincoln and Shrewsbury, I thought this would be great for us.
“It’s a long way to Wembley, we’ve got three group games to get through and I want us to get positive results, see if we can progress and see how far we can get in the competition.
Joe Dunne, Cambridge United Manager:
"We're in a stronger position now in what we have available.
"I have a belief, and I've always done this with this competition. Anyone that does well in it will tell you it's a valuable competition. We'll treat it with the value it deserves and the respect it deserves.
"I will make some changes because we have players coming back to fitness, we'll make small changes but we want to try and keep as much momentum as we can."