ANTHONY Straker feels tonight's clash with Leyton Orient will be one of the biggest games of his career so far.
The Blues left-back was part of the Aldershot side which beat West Ham in the Carling Cup last season before being knocked out by Manchester United.
But Straker believes the prospect of reaching a Wembley final makes this evening's Johnstone's Paint Trophy encounter just as important.
“This game with Leyton Orient will be one of the biggest I've played in so far,” said the 24-year-old.
“I've played against some big teams in cups before but this is just as important as they were and we're all hoping that the result will go our way.”
Straker looks certain to start the clash on the left hand side of Southend's defence.
And he will go in to the game full of confidence after producing what was arguably his best display in a Blues shirt against Northampton Town at the weekend.
“The management and the other boys all told me I played well and I was quite pleased with how it went too but you can always do better,” said Straker, who arrived at Roots Hall from Aldershot during the summer.
“A few injuries have given me a chance and if you do well when you get games then you don't know what might happen when everyone is fit again.”
Straker has started Southend's last three matches to hand him his longest run in the starting line-up this season.
And those displays have also come in his preferred position of left-back, having previously been used sparingly in a midfield role.
“I don't really mind where I play but sometimes it's hard to keep that sharpness when you're coming in and out of the team especially without a reserve side,” said Straker.
“But we have the staff and the coaches here to help keep us fit and hopefully getting a run of games obviously helps you find your form.”