SOUTHEND United centre-back Michael Turner will step up his return to full fitness by playing 90 minutes in a practice match at Roots Hall on Friday.

Turner - who joined Blues on a free transfer in the summer - made his debut for the club in Tuesday night’s 2-0 win against Colchester United in the Checkatrade Trophy.

And Blues boss Phil Brown confirmed the experienced defender will step things up this afternoon by playing a full game.

“It was great to see Michael get 70 minutes in the game on Tuesday night and the aim is for him to get the full 90 minutes in the match we’re putting on today,” said Brown.

“It’s 11 against 11 among ourselves but it will be played at Roots Hall and it will be taken seriously so we’ll definitely get something from it.

“Michael will be certainly involved and it will be good for him.

“He hardly had to break sweat the other night but I wasn’t sure if that was down to his experience or because of the quality of the opposition.

“Either way he did well and it’s great to have him back with us.

“With Ted Smith returning as well the treatment room is starting to empty and that’s great to see because I haven’t really been able to have real competition for places this season.”

Left-back Ben Coker (broken leg) and centre-backs Rob Kiernan (knee) and Harry Kyprianou (thigh) remain Blues’ only absentees but the rest of the squad will be involved in today’s game, along with two young strikers from Tottenham Hotspur.

Ryan Loft and Shilow Tracey have both been training with the Shrimpers this week and will now be lining up in the game.

“We’ve had two young lads in from Tottenham this week to continue the good relationship we have with the club,” said Brown.

“Wayne Burnett is running the under 23s now and we’ve had these young strikers come down for training and for the game but they aren’t on trial or anything like that at this stage.”

Blues are without a first team fixture this weekend as their scheduled clash with Oldham Athletic at Roots Hall was called off due to the Latics receiving a number of international call-ups.