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Southend United's Marc Laird aiming to get better of Queens Park Rangers' Nedum Onuoha
SOUTHEND United midfielder Marc Laird wants to get the better of his close friend Nedum Onuoha when Queens Park Rangers visit Roots Hall tonight.
The duo grew up playing in the same Manchester City youth team.
And they have been winding each other up ahead of their Roots Hall reunion tonight.
“I still talk to Nedum quite a lot and he’s one of my close friends so we’ve been speaking about the game as it’s the first time we will have ever played against each other,” said Laird.
“It’s been quite fun and it would be great if we could actually beat them.
“But it’s going to be very difficult as they were playing in the Premier League last season and we just need to get as much out of the game as possible to help us before the league matches get underway.”
Onuoha is likely to line up at the heart of the QPR’s defence and he is also looking forward to coming up against Laird.
“He’s probably one of my best mates in football,” said Onuoha.
“We had a great time together in the Man City academy and he’s probably got the same mentality now, playing as if he’s a 13-year-old!
“It will be good to see him again tonight.”
Onuoha will not be the only former Manchester City man in action for QPR this evening as winger Sean Wright Phillips and centre back Richard Dunne look certain to figure.
Laird also trained alongside Joey Barton while with City but the controversial midfielder is unlikely to figure for Harry Redknapp’s team at Roots Hall.
“I used to train with the first team when I was with Man City and that included Richard Dunne, Sean Wright and also Joey Barton,” said Laird, 27.
“I’m not sure if they will be playing tonight but they have real quality in their squad and it will definitely be a real work-out for us but that’s exactly what we need.”
Blues will also be going in to the game just two days after returning from a training camp in Madrid.
And Laird felt the Shrimpers’ trip to the Spanish capital was hugely beneficial, both on and off the pitch.
“The facilities we had out there was first class and it certainly helped with our training,” said Laird.
“It was also good to spend time with the new signings and spending so much time together brings you closer together as a squad.
“The match was also really enjoyable because you don’t ever really expect to play against a Real Madrid team and I thought we played quite well too.”
Blues held their Spanish hosts to a 1-1 draw at their impressive training ground complex.
Laird made way for trialist Conor Clifford at half-time after picking up a slight knock.
But he will be fine to figure again tonight.
“Their player was just a bit late on me making a tackle but it’s completely fine now,” said Laird.
“It was more or less straight away in actual fact and I’ll be OK to play again tonight.”