SOUTHEND United striker Nile Ranger was left hurting following the Shrimpers’ 2-0 defeat at Bristol Rovers on Saturday.

Ranger replaced Marc-Antoine Fortune seven minutes before the break at the Memorial Stadium.

But the 25-year-old was unable to help Blues get back into the game and was left feeling frustrated at the final whistle.

“The togetherness of this team is crazy, we’re all brothers and this hurts,” said Ranger.

“You can hear in my voice how painful it is because we’re doing so well and we’re so close yet so far away “It didn’t seem to be up to scratch out there but we gave it a go and we have to keep pushing.

“The gaffer has got into us in the changing room but we have to go from here and rebuild now.”

Despite the defeat, the Shrimpers remain seventh in the League One standings.

And Ranger is desperate for Phil Brown’s side to get their push for the play-offs back on track with a win at bottom of the table Coventry City tomorrow night.

“This game has gone now so we have to put it behind us and move on,” said Ranger.

“The points are important and we will definitely have the fire in our belly when we go to Coventry.

“I don’t know where this leaves us for the play-offs but we have to do better in our next game and then go from there.”

Ranger will also be eager to start against the Sky Blues and, after recovering from a slight groin problem which forced him to miss the 1-1 draw with Port Vale, the forward is now doing all he can to stay fit.

“I keep getting these little niggles but I’m doing strengthening work and the players are getting onto me about doing extra,” said Ranger.

“I’m not the best professional but I’m trying to give it a good go and I will keep doing extras so I don’t keep breaking down.”