SOUTHEND United’s tough-tackling midfielder Gary Deegan is backing the Shrimpers to avoid any close shaves when they host Stevenage in the second leg of their play-off semi-final at Roots Hall tomorrow night.

The two teams head into the tie locked level following a hard-fought 1-1 draw at Broadhall Way on Sunday.

But Deegan, who is instantly recognisable due to his eye-catching beard, is backing Blues to finish off the job and make it through to the play-off final at Wembley where they would face either Wycombe Wanderers or Plymouth Argyle.

“The job is only half done in this tie and we know it’s going to be tough to finish it off, but we all believe we can do it,” said the Irishman.

“Sunday’s game was a bit stop-start and they tried to stop us playing, but 1-1 wasn’t a bad result there because they have a very good home record.

“However, it only becomes a good result if we get the win tomorrow, but we’re confident we can get the win we need to get through to Wembley.”

Deegan could also be restored to the starting line-up for the second leg after he dropped to the bench at Broadhall Way.

But, with Michael Timlin suffering an horrific clash of heads in the first meeting between the two teams, Deegan is on standby to return.

However, it was not the way he would have wanted another opportunity to come around.

“It was a bad clash of heads and I hope Tims will be OK to play,” said Deegan.

“If he isn’t though, I’ll be ready to fill in and it would obviously be great to be part of such a big game.

“But I think it’s going to be quite cautious, especially early on.”

Deegan’s inclusion would also be popular among the Shrimpers supporters who have taken him to their hearts this season.

His name is regularly chanted by the Roots Hall faithful and the 27-year-old is keen to repay the fans for their support.

“It’s great to hear them chanting my name and I really appreciate it,” said Deegan.

“It’s been an enjoyable season for me, but it only becomes a good one if we go on to win promotion.”

Deegan will give his all in a bid to make that happen and would love for his beard to make an appearance at Wembley.

“I grew the beard last year but it just looked horrific, so I thought I would have another go,” laughed Deegan.

“The missus doesn’t really like it, but the Southend fans do, I think, and I’ll certainly be keeping it for a while.

“I’m also just too lazy to try and shave it off now!”