Southend United's Dave Penney: Portsmouth now a far tougher test

Echo: Dave Penney - feels Portsmouth will be a far tougher test than at Fratton Park Dave Penney - feels Portsmouth will be a far tougher test than at Fratton Park

SOUTHEND United’s assistant manager Dave Penney believes Portsmouth will provide a far sterner this afternoon than they did at Fratton Park five weeks ago.

Blues triumphed 2-1 in Hampshire despite being reduced to 10 men when 1-0 down after substitute Cauley Woodrow was sent off midway through the second half.

But, since then, Portsmouth have appointed former Crawley Town boss Richie Barker as their new manager.

And Penney is certain that will make them tougher opponents when the two teams do battle again at Roots Hall today.

“I think things have changed quite a lot since we last played Portsmouth so it will be a completely different team to the one we played before,” said Penney.

“They have a new manager and Richie is obviously getting them organised already because they’ve got clean sheets in their last two games now.

“I think four or five of the team has changed, they’re playing 4-3-3 and have a lot of quality players.

“With the likes of Patrick Agyemang and David Connolly they’re always going to be dangerous.

“But it’s a challenge we’re looking forward to.

“I’m sure there will be a big crowd and I think it should be an open game so hopefully it will also be entertaining and we can come out on top.”

The game will be Blues’ third in the space of just seven days.

And the Shrimpers’ managerial staff are therefore considering making changes to freshen up the side.

“We will be testing the players and their fatigue levels in training and then we will go from there because it’s important to try and stay fresh,” said Penney.

“After Rob Kiernan went back to Wigan we’re down to about 18 players so there aren’t really too many changes we can make but we will looking at those we do have available.”

Blues will also be looking to get back to winning ways after drawing 1-1 at Accrington Stanley on Sunday.

And Penney feels victory this afternoon would make it a successful festive period for the Shrimpers.

“People underestimate games at AFC Wimbledon and Accrington but four points from six isn’t too bad,” said Penney.

“Of course we would rather have all six but if we win today then it’s seven from nine and that would be a decent total.”

Blues have no new injury concerns for the game and have Barry Corr, Marc Laird and Conor Clifford all pushing for recalls.

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