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"It’s going to be six weeks of, how shall I say it, organised pain."

12 May 2021

Phil Brown has set a return date for players and the start of Southend United’s pre-season training.

The 61-year-old agreed a two-year contract to remain as manager of the club and has now set out his plans for the start of preparations ahead of the 2021/22 campaign.

And the Blues boss had a clear message for his players, for what he expects of them in the close season and also for what is in store when they return.

"We’ve already set a date, the second week in July, which is pencilled in the diary for the start of pre-season," said Brown.

"The 8th and 9th of July will be testing days with a view to getting work underway in earnest ahead of the start of the season which is the 21st August.

"That gives us a good six weeks of preparation and it’s going to be six weeks of, how shall I say it, organised pain.

"We’ve had enquiries about games too. We’ll have competitive games to get us ready for a battle next year."

Brown has been having talks with the players this week with regards to their futures.

And he outlined what is to be expected when they come back in July.

"We’ve had some very interesting conversations with some of the players and they will know in no uncertain terms what is required come that second week in July.

"What’s going to be required over the off-season is that they look after themselves sufficiently and come back with a reasonable semblance of fitness that we can go straight at it.

"In the last two or three days every player has been tested for fitness levels, aerobic and anaerobic, body fat and all different levels of what we can measure and when they come back on the 8th and 9th of July I want to see them very close to what they left us. If they’re not then I’ll know straight away what their intentions are; they want to take the easy route, which they won’t be allowed to.

"They might have been taking an easy route since I left the club, but I’ve got to put my mark back on this football club."

And Brown will also be making decisions on his backroom staff too in the not too distant future.

"I’ve been delighted with Ricky Duncan and Craig Fagan, and I’ll take this opportunity to give a special mention to them two in the face of a lot adversity.

"They have been sitting in the background going through what the club has been going through in the last couple of years and not being able to affect it.

"Then all of a sudden, with six games to go, they were in the deep end and standing shoulder to shoulder with me.

"I have to take my hat off to them because they were fantastic.

"They advised me about people like Matt Rush and what he’s capable of.

"Once you sign a contract at Southend United there seems to be something about that attachment to the football club that everybody performs, or tries to perform, to the highest level and that’s what I’m going to demand from everybody, backroom staff included."

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