SOUTHEND United midfielder Anthony Wordsworth is expected to miss the start of the season with a hamstring problem.

Wordsworth suffered the setback towards the end of the previous campaign.

And Blues boss Phil Brown does not expect the 28-year-old to recover in time to take on Blackburn Rovers in the opening League One fixture at the beginning of August.

“Being realistic about the situation it’s looking like Woody is going to miss the start of the season with his injury,” said Brown.

“He’s carrying out his own strength and conditioning work after the operation he’s had and he’s being held back by the physio because they want everything to be right before he returns.

“However, there is also a part of me which thinks that if we could maybe get a good couple of weeks into him before the Blackburn game then maybe he could play some part because he’s such a big player for us.

“We will have to see how he goes and we certainly won’t be taking any risks.”

Wordsworth also missed the start of last season with a hamstring problem but went on to have a fine season, scoring 12 times in 36 starts.

The midfielder will be bidding for more of the same this season but was again watching on from the sidelines when the Shrimpers faced his former Ipswich Town side yesterday.

The Tractor Boys triumphed 4-1 in the behind closed doors clash at their training ground.

But young midfielder Dru Yearwood netted for Blues and again impressed Southend boss Brown.

“Dru’s goal came from a great move which started with an excellent diagonal ball from Stephen Hendrie and he’s doing well,” said Brown.

“He’s caught the eye and he’s definitely got the respect of the dressing room as well.

“We have people in the team like Anton Ferdinand, Marc-Antoine Fortune, Michael Timlin and Simon Cox who remind the young players it’s not easy and that’s what they need.

“Dru is doing well but it’s important to remember he’s only 17 and we don’t want to get carried away, which is sometimes that we all tend to do with young players.”

>READING under-21s have been added to Southend United’s group in the Checkatrade Trophy.

Blues will also take on Gillingham and Colchester United in the initial stages of the much maligned competition. Both Colchester and Reading will visit Roots Hall.