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1 April 2022

Rested and recuperated, Southend United boss Kevin Maher has enjoyed having a full week’s training with his team as they bid to get back to winning ways against Notts County at Roots Hall on Saturday.

Blues suffered back-to-back defeats for the first time since November as they fell to a 2-0 loss against Yeovil Town last Saturday, and Maher was happy to have an empty midweek schedule.

"It’s been nice to have a full week on the training ground with the players," said the 45-year-old. 

"We’ve had a couple of new ones in and it’s the first time we’ve been able to have full training sessions with them really.

"It’s been good to get out on the grass and go through some of the work we want to get into them."

Maher’s outfit have lost three of their last four matches, following the conclusion of their 13-match unbeaten run.

But the 2022 form guide has Blues sitting second in the National League, and Maher feels that the recent stumble should not take away from the impressive start to the year.

"We try and win every game we go into, that won’t change for as long as I’m here," said the Head Coach.

"We’ve missed a few important players recently and that’s contributed to maybe a couple of results but that’s football and luckily there’s always another game to focus on.

"There’s full focus on Saturday now but the players have been brilliant seen we’ve come in.

"I saw the stat the other day that we’re second in points this year so it’s important to keep things into perspective.

"There’s been a little dip but that’s part and parcel of football.

"I can’t take away from what they’ve done for me, and the club and we’ll be looking to keep pushing."

Undeterred by recent results, the Blues boss feels that his side should approach each game with the same standards and effort levels.

Maher stressed the importance of keeping his team’s processes consistent.

"We try to be consistent in our work.

"It’s important for the players, the demands, that won’t change; we remain positive in the work we do.

"It's about responding in the right way, and we’ll keep working hard and do the things that got us success so hopefully it turns again.

"We look at opponents, but we also look at ourselves.

"We want to improve on what we’ve done and look at what we can do better.

"We’ve obviously watched them, and they will have watched us too but we need to get our performance right.”

What hasn’t suffered is Southend’s home form, for Maher’s side have lost just once at Roots Hall since November.

And with six of their nine remaining games being played on home soil, Blues’ boss wants to see his side match the performance levels they were hitting earlier the year.

"We’ve been OK at home, and it was a good win last time out [at Roots Hall] with a clean sheet so we’ll look to get back to the right level of performance," said Maher.

"Get back to what made us a decent side with and without the ball and see where that takes us."

Former Southend loanee Zak Brunt joined Notts County on loan in January.

The midfielder was a stand-out performer during his stint at Roots Hall but has struggled for consistent game time at Meadow Lane.

Maher knows exactly how much of a threat Brunt will be, if called upon.

"Zak was brilliant for us," said the Blues boss.

"We loved having him around the place and I know he enjoyed his time here.

"He made the decision to join Notts County and at the time it was the right decision.

"Good luck to him but if he comes back and plays hopefully he won’t hurt us too much.

"They have a number of good players though and they can hurt you from a number of different areas.

"Zak is just one of a number who can be part of that."

Striking duo Matt Dennis and Harry Cardwell will both be available for selection, the former having limped off with an injury last time out, while the latter made an appearance off the bench following a hamstring issue.

Also likely to return to the team sheet is Noor Husin, as the midfielder completed international duty for Afghanistan, and Maher is pleased to have more options.

"We’re delighted to get Cards [Cardwell] back on the pitch and we had waited a while," he said.

"He’s an important player for us and he will be a big part of us moving forward in the future as well. 

"Matt Dennis was back out on the grass today, so that’s good news and Noor [Husin] is back too.

"He came back yesterday."

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