doc

LEE Barnard is determined to fire Southend United back in to the play-off places with a win at Bristol Rovers tonight.

The striker has failed to score in eight games since returning to Blues on loan from Southampton during the January transfer window.

But, with his match fitness now returning, Barnard is confident of soon hitting the back of the net.

“It’s been a bit stop start for me so far and a bit frustrating too but my fitness is coming back now, I’m feeling good again and hopefully the goals will start to come for me,” said Barnard, 29.

“We need to start producing in front of goal, we haven’t been scoring or really making enough chances either.

“It’s hard coming back from a long time out and I knew it would take time but I’m hoping my first goal will come tonight and then a few more will follow to help us finish higher up the table.”

Barnard is pushing to replace the suspended Barry Corr in attack against the Pirates but Freddy Eastwood is also in contention.

Blues will be looking to end a 12 game winless streak at the Memorial Stadium.

And Barnard insists they are desperate to work their way back in to the play-offs after falling down to eighth in the table.

“It’s hurting us not being in the play-offs and is a wake up a call for us really,” said the forward.

“I’m not sure if we really needed that but we need a reaction to this now and the game tonight is our chance to do that.”

Bristol Rovers also head in to the game out of form, sitting 20th in the table.

And Barnard would love to pile more misery on the Pirates and also get the better of his former Shrimpers team-mate Steve Mildenhall who will be lining up in goal for the home-side.

“It will be great to catch up with Mildy again, he’s a big goalkeeper who fills the goal but hopefully I can have the last laugh,” added the forward.