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Match Previews

MAHER: THE STANDARDS HAVE GONE UP

18 February 2022

Southend United could extend their unbeaten run to 10 matches and clinch their sixth straight home win this evening, but face stern opposition as Grimsby Town make the trip to Roots Hall.

And reflecting on the reverse fixture three months ago, Blues’ Head Coach Kevin Maher expects a different yet difficult challenge.

“We were competitive in that game without having that cutting edge in the final third,” said Maher.

“There have been a lot of changes since then in terms of players coming in and others who have stepped up and come along with us.

“I think it will be a different game, but it will still be as tough.

“They’ve had some good results recently, I watched them against Notts County and they were very good.

“Paul [Hurst] is someone I know quite well and he’s a great manager at this level and above, so we know exactly what’s coming.”

Blues have picked up 23 points from their last 27 on offer, earning seven wins and two draws from their last nine matches.

But the Southend boss refuses to get carried away, and knows exactly the threat the Mariners will pose.

“We’ve come a long way in a short space of time, but we treat each game on its merits.

“The lads have been brilliant, and I’d like to think the standards round the place have gone up.

“It will be a really tough game.”

And a notable change since Blues’ revival has been the impressive depth and competition for places in the squad.

Maher was keen to stress the importance of having others ready to step in, while admitting his side aren’t yet the finished article.

“We’ve ground results outs and we’ve played well to win too so there are lots of good signs, but we’re still work in progress because there are still things we need to improve on.

“The good thing is the ones not in the team are really pushing the ones in it.

“If anyone drops below the standards, we’ve set then someone else is ready to come in.”

Indicative of Blues’ strong options now available, the return to fitness of the in-form Matt Dennis will cause selection headaches.

And Maher has been impressed with the output of his other forward options, leaving him with a tough decision to make this evening.

“Matt [Dennis] will take part in some training today and we will assess him after that.

“We’ve got good options in that area, and everyone is contributing.

“Callum [Powell] took his chance ever so well and Cards [Harry Cardwell] got his goal but that competition for places is good.”


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