SOUTHEND United legend Ian Benjamin feels Shrimpers boss Chris Powell should not be judged until he has a fully fit squad at his disposal.

Powell, who played in the same Blues side as Benjamin, has been hindered by injuries throughout the entire campaign.

And Benjamin believes the number of unavailable players has made it tough going for Powell this term.

Benjamin said: “How can you judge Chris with the number of injured players he has?

“I look at the Echo website every day and there seems to be another injury every time I check.

“I have never known anything like it in all my years in football and they haven’t been minor injuries either.

“With the number of players out injured you could well have expected Southend to be in the bottom four but that hasn’t been the case.

“They’ve been in mid-table and I obviously just hope they don’t get dragged into it.”

Benjamin scored 37 goals in 139 games during a successful two-and-a-half year spell which is best remembered for him scoring the winning goal against Bury back in 1991 which saw Blues win promotion into the second tier for the first time in their history.

The 57-year-old now works as a scout for the Shrimpers and is keen for the club’s fans to remain right behind their team and the manager.

“I’ve seen a few of the comments on the website and I just think come on, no team would be able to deal with these injuries,” said Benjamin.

“Southend’s fans are great but they need to get right behind the team now, especially at home where unusually things haven’t been going well this season.

“Young players are having to come in and, although they’re talented, they might be coming in before they’re really ready to be playing every week.”

But Benjamin believes things will be better for Blues next season.

“It’s a tough League but I think with a fully fit squad and everyone at Chris’ disposal, Southend would be pushing for the play-offs next season,” added Benjamin.

l BLUES’ under-23 team are in action at Forest Green Rovers this afternoon.