Wellens wants a fast start against Southend

Date published: 23 February 2018

Richie Wellens has urged his Athletic players to get on the front foot early on in tomorrow’s home Sky Bet League One fixture against in-form Southend.

The hosts are in good nick themselves having taken seven points from their last three matches, but the Shrimpers have turned a major corner since the recent appointment of Wellens’ former team-mate Chris Powell as manager.

Southend have won four and drawn one in five games since Powell replaced Phil Brown permanently in January.

Wellens said: “In any game at this level the first goal is massive.

“Players take big confidence from going into the lead. It gives them that extra to hold on to and they do start concentrating that little bit more.

“Southend usually start their games really quickly. In fact, every game bar the 0-0 draw with Bury, Southend have taken the lead.

“That means we’re going to have to start quick, although we do also finish games strongly too, particularly in the last 30 or 35 minutes or so.

“We need to start positively, be on the front foot, and then make sure we’re still in the game towards the latter stages because I believe we can cause them a lot of problems.”

Wellens feels his squad have benefitted from a rest having not played since last Tuesday week’s 1-0 win against MK Dons.

Results elsewhere since have generally been favourable for Athletic as they continue to battle against the dreaded drop, but the focus isn’t necessarily on rivals and how they’ve been doing.

“The most important thing is that we don’t get away from what we need to do,” added Wellens.

“It’s probably only the Wimbledon result that went against us.

“The other night Rochdale drew with the Dons, then Fleetwood lost on Tuesday, but we mustn’t let our own concentration slip.

“If we look after ourselves and get a certain amount of wins, then it doesn’t matter the other results are each weekend.

“Okay, results elsewhere by and large went for us, but it’s our chance on Saturday to get three more points. That’s all I’m concentrating on.”

Wellens has urged the Athletic fans to be loud and proud again tomorrow at Park as the team look to elevate themselves back out of the relegation zone.

“Tomorrow is a big game,” said Wellens.

“In fact we’ve got a lot of big games coming up against teams in and around us, so we need the fans to come and support us like they always do.

“When the atmosphere here is rocking, teams don’t like coming here.

“It can be a difficult place to come, so with the fans right on our side and the atmosphere is up, it makes it even more difficult for opposing teams.”