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18 July 2022

Blues boss Kevin Maher expressed his delight at his young squad after they drew 2-2 against National League North side Kettering Town.

Maher opted to change his starting eleven due to the difficult conditions in Northamptonshire, as he continued to manage his squad heading into the new season.

“I’m delighted with them,” said Maher, “It’s a good test for them.

“We were young throughout, and everyone did excellent.

“The conditions were difficult to say the least, we got a couple of good goals, so I’m pleased with that.

“The pitch was like it’s been played on for 10 months. There were cracks and sand all over and that changed our plans pre-match.

“I’m delighted that some could get 90 minutes and they did ever so well.”

Blues fielded an inexperienced team at Latimer Park, with January signing, from the Poppies, Callum Powell boasting the most experience in the Southend ranks.

Maher added: “We didn’t want to take risks, the ones that did play did brilliantly and I can’t fault them.

“I’m pleased there were no serious injuries, and I’m happy with how the lads applied themselves.

“They’re fit lads, going forward we will manage it, especially with the heat that’s coming.”

The Blues boss also shared some positive news regarding forward Simeon Akinola, who was forced off in the first half with an injury, believing it isn’t as bad as first feared.

The striker continues his rehabilitation after a long-term injury suffered in October 2021.

“Our first fear with Sim was that he’d done his knee but thankfully it seems to be just his hamstring, so fingers crossed it’s OK.

“He’s bitterly disappointed and we understand that. There’s always a risk when you come back from a long injury, but we’ll assess the situation and see how he is.”

Blues head to North Essex on Tuesday as they face local rivals Colchester United in their next pre-season fixture. Tickets are available on the day or can be streamed live from the comfort of your home.

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