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15 March 2022

After sitting out of action at the weekend, Southend United return to Roots Hall this evening to face Dagenham & Redbridge for the third time this season.

The two sides’ first clash coincided with Kevin Maher’s first match as Blues’ Head Coach and ended in 3-0 defeat, but the 45-year-old believes his squad is much improved from his first days in charge.

"We’ve definitely improved from where we were that first day," said Maher.

"We’ve come a long way, but we will keep striving to get better.

"We want to improve all the time, and this is another game we will need the same attitude and tempo that we have been playing at.

"We’ve got a long way to go but we will keep on working hard."

Blues were dealt the blow of losing defender Kacper Lopata last week after being recalled by parent club Sheffield United.

While Maher is disappointed to lose the influential centre half, he now has his attentions turned on those who can step into the fold.

"Kacper going back is disappointing but all credit to him," said the Blues boss.

"He’s done ever so well, and I’m pleased for him.

"We’re grateful to Sheffield United and it’s been a good relationship, it might be something we look to in the future as well.

"He’s going to be a loss, but others will have to step in, Kacper has missed games before and it’s the way it goes.

"We might possibly look to strengthen. We’re looking to improve so if we do bring someone in it will have to be the right one."

Tonight’s hosts will be looking to avoid a trio of defeats against the Daggers this evening.

And Head Coach Maher is raring to get his side back out on the pitch, knowing that it’ll be a tough test against Daryl McMahon’s side.

"It’s a good game to come back to and one that will be very tough for us," said the former midfielder.

"We saw them at the weekend, and they were one kick away from being in the semi-final of the Trophy.

"They’re up there in the league as well so we know how tough it will be."

The Blues boss will be facing his former team this evening, while assistant Head Coach Darren Currie and Head of Football John Still also had spells with the Daggers.

Despite Blues’ unwanted record against McMahon’s side this campaign, Maher insists wanting victory has nothing to do with ‘getting one’ over the Daggers.

"It's more about us and how we perform," he said.

"We keep talking about our standards in games and if we reach them we will be competitive in games.

"It’s not about getting one over on people, it’s about being the best we can be.

"We will focus on ourselves, but we’ve watched them and know what to expect.

"They’re a good side and we will need to be on top of our game to get anything.

And Blues are boosted by the return to training of striking duo Harry Cardwell and Matt Dennis.

"Harry has been out on the grass today so we will keep an eye on him and see if he will be able to make it or not but he’s certainly getting closer,” said the 45-year-old.

"Matt has been training.

"He was able to get out on the grass today which is good, and it gives us another option."

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