Chris Powell's side will take on Kenny Jackett's high-flying Pompey on Tuesday night as both teams battle it out to get through to the Fourth Round of the Checkatrade Trophy...
The prospect of a place at Wembley is a chance worth taking and the Checkatrade Trophy currently offers that to Southend who are just three games from the final, and Powell is holding nothing back ahead of the big game on Tuesday with a strong side 100% on the cards.
On his approach to the game...
“We’ve got a young first-team at the minute and in the earlier rounds at Colchester and at home to Cambridge I did play a few more U23’s but now that we have progressed past Luton a knockout stage, and we practiced penalties for that game, we’ve gone through that scenario again.
“This is a competition that we’re in and we should look to win it, if not don’t play in it.
"I know we are going to have a strong side tomorrow, we do have some young players in the side, but they are young players that have been playing recently.
“We’ve had a week's rest as such, we have been training, but we should be chomping at the bit to play and do our best to win another football match because everyone loves winning!"
On reaching the latter stages of the competition...
“We’re only a few games away from where we’d like to be, I don’t really like to talk about it too much because we’ve got to deal with this game first.
“We don’t know what team they are going to play, they don’t know what team we are going to play.
“They’re going for promotion, they’re in the Fourth Round of the Emirates FA Cup which may affect their team selection, we don’t know.
“But I know Kenny will put out a competitive team but I don’t think tomorrow is high on their priorities, I think promotion and the FA Cup is a bit higher than the Checkatrade [Trophy], but it’s a competition that if you’re in it; you want to win it and that’s exactly what we’re aiming to do.”
On Ted Smith
“You look at our goalkeeping situation now with young [Nathan[ Bishop playing and Ted Smith who everyone knows has played very well at this club, he’s had a serious injury but he’s back now and just short of game time and of course Mark Oxley, Player of the Year last year but he’s got a back injury right now.
“I’m pleased with the three goalkeepers and I’m really quite spoilt at this level and I think that’s down, not solely to Lee Harrison, but his input and the way he mentors those keepers both young and old is brilliant.
“I’m a goalkeeper lover, not many managers are into their keepers, but I am, and I think they are very important; I like them to get their clean sheets.
“Both Ted & Nathan have come through the Academy system, Bish hasn’t been here as long as Ted - I think Nathan was around 15-16 when he joined the team - and Smith was a few years younger.
“They’ve grown up with the goalkeeping coaches and staff and they have all been part of the boys’ journey, but ultimately it’s up to me to put them in and finish them off and start their journey and to make them professionals and hopefully into players that will have very long careers.
“I’m very spoilt for choice, Ted is chomping at the bit and if and when Ted plays he won’t let us down because I know he’s already played and shown people he’s capable, he just had a serious knock-back, but he’s come through it the other side and what he needs now is to be involved, get some game time and go from there.”