SOUTHEND United manager Paul Sturrock insists he has never come close to bringing Paul Benson to the club.

Benson is currently on loan at Cheltenham Town and is expected to start for the Robins in tonight’s clash at Roots Hall.

But, despite plenty of transfer speculation, Sturrock admitted he had not tried to sign the former White Ensign forward, who grew up supporting Blues.

“I’ve not come close to signing Paul as I think you will find his wages are very lucrative,” said Sturrock.

“When he went from Charlton to Swindon he got a really good deal and it was that move that took him out of my range.”

Southend-born Benson has therefore ended up linking up with the Robins and he could be facing a makeshift Blues back four this evening.

Ryan Cresswell is definitely out as he begins a three-match suspension following his red card at Accrington Stanley on Saturday.

And both Mark Phillips (toe) and Chris Barker (calf) will both face late fitness tests.

“The players will be given every opportunity to get fit and a decision won’t be made until late afternoon,” said Sturrock.

“It’s a situation you couldn’t have seen happening and we may have to put Michael Spillane back there if Mark and Chris aren’t fit.

“But other sides have these kinds of problem and we just have to roll our sleeves up and battle.”

Marc Laird and Ryan Leonard are both expected to be passed fit, while Barry Corr is also pushing for a recall in attack.