Walsall vs Southend United...
Blues travel to the Midlands to take on Walsall at the Banks’s Stadium tomorrow afternoon in the first game of a huge double-header over the Easter bank holiday weekend.
With Burton to come on Monday, first Southend must navigate a tricky trip to the Saddlers with both sides in desperate need of points as both find themselves in the bottom four.
Walsall, currently 23rd, are one point and one place below Blues in the table and a poor run of form in recent weeks has seen them lose all of their last six matches.
Blues’ own winless run continued following last weekend’s defeat to Wycombe but both sides go into Friday’s game knowing that a win could see the victors jump out of the relegation zone.
Southend United: LDLLLL
23rd October 2018: Southend United (Bunn 2, Dieng) 3 vs 0 Walsall
3rd March 2018: Southend United 0 vs 3 (Oztumer 3) Walsall
28th October 2017: Walsall 0 vs 1 (Cox) Southend United
Blues full-back Jason Demetriou has been ruled out for the remainder of the season after picking up a knee injury, leaving the door open for Elvis Bwomono to slot in at right-back.
Kevin Bond may look to shake things up further at the back with Michael Turner and Taylor Moore options, while Rob Kiernan could fall back into defence having played the last two games in midfield.
Stephen McLaughlin returned from a calf injury to feature against Wycombe last weekend and he’ll be pushing for a start, although Luke Hyam remains out with a hamstring injury.
Walsall will be without the suspended Josh Gordon after the striker was sent off for two bookable offences in the Saddlers’ defeat to Accrington Stanley last weekend.
Zeli Ismail is the front-runner to come into the Walsall attack with Adam Chambers, Matt Jarvis and Kory Roberts the only other absentees for the home side.
Kevin Bond, Southend United Manager:
"We are both in a similar situation.
"The pressure is very much on them as in the same way it is on us. It is also a game in which both teams need to win so I wouldn’t expect anything other than a totally committed performance from Walsall.
"We will be under no illusions, they’re not playing well at the moment and the same can be said for us but it’s not going to make our task any easier."
Martin O’Connor, Walsall Interim Manager:
“I know they have got confidence and I know they are good players. They need to have that belief within themselves to go out and perform, to compete and to embrace the challenge of the position we find ourselves in.
“We haven’t been good enough and we now find ourselves fighting a relegation battle that we have been in for two months and we are still in it.
“We could still get ourselves out of it though and that is the positive that I have been telling the players.”
Tickets come off sale at midday on Thursday from the Blues Box Office and will then be on sale on the day at Banks's Stadium.
Please note, prices on the day will increase by £2 and it's cash only at the turnstiles.
Coventry City vs Bradford City (1pm)
Oxford United vs Charlton Athletic (1pm)
AFC Wimbledon vs Bristol Rovers
Barnsley vs Shrewsbury Town
Burton Albion vs Portsmouth
Fleetwood Town vs Peterborough United
Gillingham vs Plymouth Argyle
Rochdale vs Wycombe Wanderers
Scunthorpe vs Blackpool
Sunderland vs Doncaster Rovers (5.15pm)
Accrington Stanley vs Luton Town (5.30pm)