Sol Campbell says his Blues players have made “good strides” having completed his first full week of training ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.
Campbell only had two days with the boys before last Saturday’s defeat to Ipswich, but this week the Southend boss has had more of a chance to assess and get his message across to his new side.
And Campbell is well aware of the task at hand tomorrow afternoon against a Sunderland side who are desperately chasing promotion back to the Championship.
“For us, it’s a big game. It’s going to be a big crowd over there and a big pitch. They’ve got fantastic history Sunderland so we’ve got to be at it, compact and ready to go.
“Getting the lads for a whole week has been great for me, we’ve had a nice little block of training which is very important for us to get our message across so it’s very important for us. It’s only been just over a week, but we’ve made some really good strides and that’s key. We’ve done a little bit of fitness work, a bit of technical work, so hopefully, it’ll all start paying off in the games.
“I’m confident in the sense that we can put a good shift in and a good performance. The main thing for us is the performance and everybody has to buy in and step up and put a little bit more energy into it, but also a bit more thought as well. I want them to express themselves, but I also want them to be canny when they’re defending and making sure they’re tight as a unit.”
Southend fans will have fond memories of the last meeting between these two with Stephen Humphrys’ late goal on the final day of last season, saving Blues from relegation to League Two.
The Black Cats though won the reverse fixture 3-0 at the Stadium of Light a little over a year ago and so far this season Phil Parkinson’s side have yet to taste defeat at home in the league.
Campbell played a number of times at the Stadium of Light and knows what it takes to get a win there, but he said he’s under “no illusions” that tomorrow will be an easy ride.
“They’re a big side, they’ve got a huge budget and we’ve got to be at it from minute one. We’re under no illusions that it’s going to be an easy game, but the main thing for us is as long as we get our set up right and we can impose ourselves on the game and we take our chances or give them problems, that’s the main thing for us.
“We’ve got to go out there and enjoy the game, work hard and not be overawed by the stadium. Just play our game, back each other up on the pitch and play some football. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but we’ve made some good strides and as long as the guys are focused, we’ll be alright."