BLUES boss Chris Powell has heaped praise on Ben Coker ahead of the left-back’s 200th appearance for the club.

Coker, who has been with Southend United since 2013, will bring up his double century when he takes to the pitch at Shrewsbury Town tomorrow.

And Powell - himself a former Shrimpers left-back - has been impressed by the current number three at Roots Hall.

“Ben’s a player I like and he’s good for us,” said Powell, who previously joked he wanted to make Coker the club’s second best ever left-back.

“He’s had his injury knocks here but he’s always overcome those and come back stronger.

“He’s very diligent on the ball and we build good attacks from Ben.

“Defensively he’s strong and calm and hopefully he can stay in a rich vein of form and keep providing assists like he has been doing.

“Hopefully he can continue adding the games to his career too.”

Coker has been an ever present for the Shrimpers in League One so far this season and looks set to maintain that record this weekend.

However, Blues will again be without a number of players with goalkeeper Mark Oxley (suspended), midfielder Luke Hyam (ankle), winger Michael Kightly (suspended), defender Rob Kiernan (knees), goalkeeper Ted Smith (shoulder), winger Sam Barratt (knee) and centre-back Harry Lennon (toe) all unavailable.

Midfielder Dru Yearwood is still not ready to return from a hamstring injury despite being back in full training.

But Jason Demetriou and Harry Kyprianou are available again after returning from international action with Cyprus.