SOUTHEND United midfielder Michael Timlin has been ruled out for three months with the dislocated elbow he suffered in a behind closed doors friendly at Tottenham Hotspur.

Timlin picked up the injury when scoring a goal in the closing stages against Spurs.

And a specialist has now advised he faces an extended spell on the sidelines, much to the disappointment of manager Phil Brown.

“It’s obviously a real blow to missing Tims for that amount of time because he was looking good in pre-season and is an important player for us.

“I also thought he was looking the fittest I’ve ever seen him but he’s come back strongly from injury setbacks before and I know he will from this as well.”

Timlin fought his way back from a broken leg last pre-season and the year before he was sidelined by a shoulder problem.

But his latest setback will open the door for another of the club’s midfielders, with Conor Clifford currently the most likely to benefit.

The Irishman has made an impressive start to pre-season and will now have the chance to try and secure a starting slot in the centre of the park.

“Conor has been doing well and I’m sure he will be fired up to get in to the starting line-up,” said Brown.

“He won’t be the only one though so we’ll have a few players trying to push for the spot in the team but it’s still a real blow to missing Tims.”

However, Brown does expect to have midfielder Ryan Leonard back for Saturday’s friendly at Braintree Town after he recovered from the leg injury he suffered at Billericay on Tuesday night.

Defender Adam Thompson is still doubtful with a back problem.