SOUTHEND United right-back Jason Demetriou will step up his specially adapted pre-season schedule when the Shrimpers take on Braintree Town on Saturday.

The 29-year-old enjoyed an extended campaign after playing twice for Cyprus in the summer.

And Demetriou revealed his extensive work-load had been taken into consideration during the start of Blues’ preparations for the forthcoming campaign.

“I’ve been talking to the fitness coaches and the manager and they don’t want me to burn out so they’ve been keeping a close eye on me,” said Demetriou.

“I didn’t play in the game we had against Partick Thistle but I got 45 minutes under my belt in the game we had against Ipswich in the week and it was a good work-out.

“I feel good and I’m ready to step things up now if that’s what’s everything thinks is best for me.”

Demetriou expects to face Braintree this weekend.

And he hopes to be able to link up with Blues’ new signing Michael Kightly for the first time down the right hand side.

“I’m looking forward to playing in the team with Michael, just like everyone else,” said Demetriou.

“He’s been really good in training and we’ve been linking up well too.

“He’s an intelligent player and it would great to get a good partnership going down the right hand side but there’s obviously a lot of competition for places.”

Kightly will figure for the first time since his return to the Shrimpers this weekend and boss Phil Brown hopes Theo Robinson will also be in action.

The striker missed the midweek defeat at Ipswich Town with an illness and Brown is keen for the striker to recover in time to face Braintree.

“Theo missed out the other day but hopefully he’ll be fit to train today and will be fine to play against Braintree because we want to get him fit and firing,” said Brown.

“We were missing quite a few at Ipswich the other day with Anthony Wordsworth having a long term injury, Nile Ranger being in prison and Michael Kightly not quite ready to be involved.

“Anton Ferdinand also missed out for personal reasons so we were without four or five big players.

“How many will be back against Braintree I’m not so sure but thankfully we didn’t pick up any new injuries in the Ipswich game.

“I’m pleased with how it’s going at this stage and the fitness levels of the players.”