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Doubts remains over futures of Marc Laird and Tamika Mkandawire at Southend United
SOUTHEND United head in to this afternoon’s crunch clash against promotion rivals Gillingham at Roots Hall with doubts over the future of two influential midfielders.
Marc Laird’s and Tamika Mkandawire’s loan spells with Blues will both expire after the game with Gills.
And, while Laird seems likely to stay, Mkandawire’s future is far less certain.
The 29-year-old will be heading back to Millwall tomorrow and the Lions’ chief executive Andy Ambler has confirmed Mkandawire will be holding talks with the club’s management.
"Tamika’s loan ends after Southend's game on New Year's Day when he will return to us, have a chat with the manager and we will go from there,” said Ambler.
"We'll sit down and talk about his long-term future at Millwall.
“But he wants to come back and, quite rightly, discuss his contract situation.
“All sorts of things could come out of that."
Laird, who is with Southend from Leyton Orient, remains in talks about remaining at Roots Hall.
But Blues boss Paul Sturrock has not given up hope of keeping both players in his squad.
“We’re still hopeful that something can be sorted out with both Marc and Tam,” confirmed Sturrock.
“We’re in discussions with both of them, their clubs and their agents and hope we can keep them until the end of February or even longer.
“It’s hard at this time of year though because not many people are working so it’s been difficult to make progress.
“However, they’ve both been very important players for us so of course we want them to stay with us for as long as possible.”
Laird has scored twice in 14 appearances for Blues since signing in late October while Mkandawire has played 11 times in a defensive midfield role.
They tasted defeat for the first time in a Southend shirt at Burton Albion on Saturday but will be hoping to help Sturrock’s fourth placed side bounce back against the Gills, who are second in the standings, this afternoon.
But Sturrock knows it will be a tough test against the Kent club “Gillingham have been top of the league for most of the season and are a very strong team,” said the Scotsman.
“They also haven’t played since Boxing Day so will be a bit fresher than us but we’re fired up for the game and want to react in the right way to the disappointment of Saturday.”
The match at Roots Hall kicks off at 1pm.