Match preview: Chesterfield v Southend United

Coca Cola Championship 21/02/09'Plymouth Argle vs Sheffield United 'Plymouth Ex Owls Boss Paul Sturrock.
Coca Cola Championship 21/02/09'Plymouth Argle vs Sheffield United 'Plymouth Ex Owls Boss Paul Sturrock.

Neal Trotman is expected to keep his place at the heart of the Chesterfield defence for the visit of Southend United.

The transfer-listed centre-half impressed alongside Liam Cooper in the Spireites’ 3-0 win over Northampton Town, with captain Sam Hird moving to right-back in the absence of the injured Drew Talbot.

And manager Paul Cook is likely to name an unchanged side from that which brushed aside Aidy Boothroyd’s Cobblers two weeks ago - in their last competitive outing after the game at Torquay was cancelled last weekend.

Cook said: “The lads had a break last weekend when the game was called off. We felt it was good after the Christmas period to give them a couple of days off and let them recharge the batteries.

“Monday was a write-off, but we were back training again Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. We’re really looking forward to the game Saturday, we think it’s going to be on, which is great for the club.

“We’re looking forward to the game against a strong Southend side.”

Chesterfield remain three points from the play-offs while their opponents on Saturday are just one point outside the top seven in League Two.

Cook added: “For a while now we’ve been languishing below a certain line. We want to be above that line, we want to be in with the big teams of the league and we want to be involved in those big games.

“If we play like we did against Northampton we will win the game.

“Southend have got their hands full with us. We went down there pre-Christmas and we got a thoroughly deserved heavy defeat against a team that were a lot more hungry than us, had a lot more physical strength than us and were a lot better than us on the night.”

There will be a pitch inspection at 8am tomorrow Saturday morning (January 26) to determine whether the Proact Stadium pitch is playable.

THE OPPOSITION

The Shrimpers are without a win in their last three League Two fixtures but remain in the hunt for a play-off place largely thanks to a 10-game unbeaten run towards the back end of 2012, which included six victories, stretching back to October 23.

Paul Sturrock’s side also benefited from a weekend off last Saturday after their game against Plymouth Argyle was postponed due to the adverse weather.

It was seen as a much-needed break for the players, who were involved in two cup competitions during a hectic fixture schedule shortly after the festive period.

Southend went out of the FA Cup Third Round to Brentford following a replay but are through to the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Southern Final after edging past Oxford United on penalties in a thrilling semi-final.

And Sturrock said he hoped the clash with Chesterfield would go ahead to avoid further backlog.

He said: “We are desperate for the game to go ahead because we don’t want more of a fixture pile-up later in the season. The players have rested over the weekend with one game being postponed so we don’t want anymore to fall foul to the weather.”

Southend have won six away from home this season, including notable scalps at play-off rivals Rotherham United and Cheltenham.

They boast much fire power in the form of Gavin Tomlin, who has netted 14 so far this campaign, Britt Assombalonga (12) and Barry Corr (eight).

Watford loanee Assombalonga, Kevan Hurst, Ryan Cresswell and Marc Laird are all in a race to be fit for the game.

The two sides recently met in the return fixture at Roots Hall on December 21, with the Shrimpers easing to a 3-0 win to end the Spireites’ five game unbeaten league run.

How they last lined up (v Brentford in the FA Cup Third Round): Smith, Clohessy, Straker, Cresswell, Phillips, Prosser, Barker, Timlin, Hurst, Corr, Tomlin.

League form: D W W L L L

- Follow the action as it happens on Twitter via @DTimes_Sport and have your say!