SOUTHEND United manager Phil Brown has doubts over a trio of players ahead of tonight’s pre-season friendly with Brighton & Hove Albion at Roots Hall.
Centre-back Michael Turner (hamstring), left-back Ben Coker (thigh) and winger Stephen McLaughlin (ankle) all missed Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Ebbsfleet United.
And Brown is not yet sure if the three key players will be fit to face the Seagulls who were promoted into the Premier League last season.
“Michael Turner, Ben Coker and Macca are all doubtful for the Brighton game and we’re not too sure if they will be playing at this stage,” said Brown.
“There’s a balance to be had between getting them fit and not making the injuries any worse so we have to be sensible about it all.
“It’s not worth taking any risks.
“But if they don’t play tonight then we’re still confident they will be able to get 90 minutes under their belts before the start of the season.”
However, one player who will definitely be in the squad this evening is trialist striker Amadou Ba.
The teenage Frenchman scored against Ebbsfleet at the weekend and should be handed another opportunity to impress tonight in an encounter which Blues’ assistant manager Graham Coughlan is relishing.
“It’s an exciting test for us,” said the Irishman.
“Brighton scored six against Crawley at the weekend so to call this a tough test would be an understatement.
“It might be a game we don’t see much of the ball in so it will be a good exercise in terms of our shape.
“The lads are really looking forward to it and it’s great to have a Premier League team in town.”
Brighton will be lining up in the top tier this term after finishing second in the Championship last season.
And Coughlan is full of admiration for the Seagulls and their manager Chris Hughton.
“It’s an unbelievable story and it’s an unbelievable job Chris has done too,” said Coughlan.
“If he was a foreign manager the whole world and the whole country would be going on about it because he’s been different class and everyone connected with the club has been as well, especially after the play-off heartbreak they suffered the season before.
“But I can remember going to their previous grounds and when they didn’t even have one and had to share with Gillingham.
“It’s a great story and it’s one we would love to emulate ourselves one day.”