BEN Coker is closing in on a return for Southend United.

The Shrimpers left-back has yet to feature this season after suffering a broken leg against Colchester United in July.

But Blues boss Phil Brown expects the defender to be back in contention in the next two weeks.

“Ben has been back in training this week and it definitely won’t be too long at all until he’s back playing,” said Brown.

“His clearance date from the surgeon is next Tuesday but he will be on the coach to Bristol Rovers.

“Being realistic I think Saturday’s game might be a bit too soon for him but he could well be involved against Bradford City the weekend after.

“That could mean he’s on the bench or even straight back in because he’s done that before following an injury and I don’t think he will need a game in the under-23s.

“Ben is a remarkable specimen and for him to be back so soon from the injury he suffered is testament to his hard work.

“It really is a pleasure to work with him and it’s great to have him back.”

Coker has not played for the Shrimpers since April and in his likely absence again this weekend Brown must select between Michael Timlin and Stephen Hendrie for the left-back berth.

Timlin - who is more naturally a midfielder - has filled in for most of the season but Hendrie has returned for the last two games.

And Brown will pick between them both on Saturday.

“There’s a decision to be made at left-back but I already have my team in my head,” said the 58-year-old.

“Bristol Rovers are a potent threat going forward with (Ellis) Harrison, (Billy) Bodin and (Rory) Gaffney all scoring so we have to pick a solid side that will be able to deal with that and battle.

“There’s competition for places and it’s going to intensify with the imminent return of Ben which is something our backroom staff also deserve to be praised for.”

Brown also confirmed that defender Harry Kyprianou - who has been out since early October with a thigh problem - will be making the trip to Bristol with Blues this weekend.

However, winger Michael Kightly misses out with a hamstring problem.