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25 March 2022

Southend United Head Coach Kevin Maher has called on his side to play for every point in the remaining 10 matches of the National League season, starting this weekend as Blues make the trip to Yeovil Town.

Maher has set targets on teams he wants his outfit to catch up with in the fifth tier table, and the Blues boss will keep his processes the same to aim to do just that as the season draws to a close.

“We’ll challenge for every point,” said the 45-year-old.

“There’s 30 points we have to try to win them all if we can.

“What we fall short of, okay we’ll deal with that.

“We’ll be looking to get as many points as possible and finish as high as we can.

“There are teams up there we want to catch and that’s the target.”

Blues lost 2-1 in the week away at Maidenhead United in controversial circumstances, as the winning goal came from a free kick which the visitors felt should not have been given.

But Maher is keen for his side to bounce back from that disappointment with a strong performance at Huish Park.

“It was disappointing to lose and in the manner we did,” said the Blues boss.

“Watching it back we were in control for a lot of the game and to take the lead away from home, only to end up losing is disappointing.

“But we’ve put that to bed, and we look forward to Saturday now.”

Saturday’s hosts have won their last two matches, their most recent performance particularly eye-catching as they enjoyed a 2-1 triumph against Bromley.

Blues’ Head Coach is expecting a tough test against Darren Sarll’s Glovers.

“It will be a tough one on Saturday,” said Maher.

“They’ve had a couple of good results off the back of losing to Dagenham so it will be a tough game.

“They’ll work very hard and they’ve got good threat in attacking areas as well to be fair to them.

“It’s a tough place to go and we’ll have to be at our best, like always, to get a result in this league.”

Despite losing two of their last three matches, Blues’ progress can’t be understated.

And Maher is proud of his side’s efforts since his arrival, notwithstanding their recent setbacks.

“The lads have been brilliant,” he said.

“We’ve come a long way in an awfully short period of time and I don’t think a lot of people would’ve expected it.

“So a lot of credit to everyone involved.

“We need to stay positive and look forward.”

Blues will be boosted by the return of striker Harry Cardwell.

The striker returned to training on Thursday after sitting out of his side’s last six matches with a hamstring issue, and Maher is happy to have his frontman back available.

“Fingers crossed Cards will be out on the grass today [Thursday] and that will be a big boost for us,” said the Blues boss.

“He gives us a presence and leads the line ever so well.

“He takes a lot of the workload off other people.

“There’s no pressure on him but I’m delighted he’s back out on the grass so lets see where that takes him.”

But with the good news comes bad news, as Nathan Ralph is set to miss out for six weeks with a quad injury.

The layoff will see the defender miss out on action for the England C squad, of which he earned a call up earlier in the month, and the Blues boss is saddened by the 29-year-old’s absence.

“I’m disappointed for him because he’s been brilliant for us,” said Maher.

“He fully deserved the call up for England C so that’s disappointing too alongside the games he will miss for us.

“It’s grade two which is maybe six weeks and it’s disappointing.

“He’s a fit lad and someone who has recovered quickly in the past so hopefully he can do so again.

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