KEVIN Maher will go head-to-head with his former room-mate and manager Mark Stimson tonight.

Southend United’s under-23 side head to Waltham Abbey, who are bossed by ex-Shrimper Stimson, in the fourth round of the Essex Senior Cup.

And Maher is looking forward to catching up with Stimson.

“I was room-mates with Stimmo when I first came to Southend and I used to drive in with him and Leo Roget for quite a while when I first came to the club so it will be good to see him again,” said Maher.

“He was also my manager when I was at Gillingham so he’s someone I know well.

“He’s a really good manager and, without being disrespectful to anyone, I think he’s far too good to be managing at that level.

“But he will have Waltham Abbey very well organised because his teams always are and this is going to be a very, very hard game for us.”

Abbey are currently fifth in the South Central Division, six points below table-topping Marlow.

But Maher - whose side won 5-2 at Harlow Town in the last round - is looking forward to seeing his young players adapt to the game.

“We look forward to every game but the Essex Senior Cup matches show the players what football is really like,” said Maher.

“The matches are more physical than the under-23 games we play but a lot of our players have been out on loan so they should be used to that.

“The last round was quite eventful at Harlow as we came back from two goals down to get the win but it’s always very hard to win in this cup.

“Our record over the last few years suggests that too and I think we’re seen as something of a scalp.

“But we have to deal with that and be ready for the game.”

However, it is not just the Shrimpers’ first team who are struggling with injuries right now and Maher is short of options for tonight’s clash.

Defenders Taylor Curran and Tom Clifford both limped off against MK Dons last week, while top goalscorer Norman Wabo is unlikely to figure due to his loan spell at Braintree Town.

And that will make things even tougher for Blues.

“We’re down to the bare bones,” added Maher.

>Tonight's game is subject to a 3pm pitch inspection