Chris Powell says Southend are entering a “critical time” following the recent injury news to hit the squad.
Tom Hopper and Ben Coker were ruled out for the remainder of the season at the start of the week with cruciate knee ligament injuries, and Harry Lennon the week before found out he would be out until the New Year with a fractured leg.
Sam Barratt and Lewis Gard are also sidelined with ACL injuries, and the mounting problems caused the Blues boss to cut a frustrated figure at Thursday’s press conference.
“It’s a very critical time for us,” said Powell. “In many ways I’m not one to bleat about this too often but this has really hit us hard.
“I’ve got to make everyone aware that we’re missing some key players, mainstays that have earned the right to be in the team on a regular basis.
“You just can’t legislate for what’s happened to us.
“Listen, we’re going to get on with it, without a doubt. That’s why you have a squad and players to come in if people get knocks or suspended, but this is a long time now for them with regards to recuperation and recovery.
“I just can’t believe it. You normally get a serious injury once a season at best. I’ve gone through seasons where you haven’t had a major one for two or three seasons.
“But for us to get four serious knee injuries and one broken leg is tough to take.
“I’m desperately sad for those players in particular. I know they’ll get on with it and they’re all different characters, but they’ll be stronger for it.
“Sitting here now it’s really tough to take.”
Blues travel to South Yorkshire this weekend to face Daniel Stendel’s Barnsley side.
The Tykes are fourth in the standings and ended a two-game losing streak by beating Bristol Rovers last weekend.
“Like most teams in the division, they’ve had their ups and downs even though we’re not too many points away from them, and we think our season has been up, down, up, down,” Powell added.
“They lost at Charlton and Shrewsbury but bounced back last week against Bristol Rovers.
“They’ve got a certain style and way of playing and some decent players, like a lot of League One sides.
“We need to pick ourselves up after last week’s game at Sunderland where for the first half an hour, or the first half as a whole, we were well in the game.
“The game changing moment was the Dru Yearwood incident and then they score a wonderful, outstanding strike with the second goal. Then you’re chasing the game.
“We’re now having to prepare for this game, and it’s a busy period coming up, so we’ve got to deal with Barnsley and their threats and go from there.”