SOUTHEND United chiefs believe the Shrimpers have the fifth highest budget in League One this season.

But more than £20,000 a week of wages has been stuck in the treatment room.

The statistics were revealed in the latest Blues Bulletin published on the club’s official website.

And a club spokesman was keen to show just how much this season has been hindered by the Shrimpers’ lengthy injury list.

“The 2018/19 season has been ravaged with injuries, the worst injury list in Southend United Football Club’s recent history,” said the spokesman.

“This has proved hugely disruptive to the team selection and as a consequence a lack of continuity which we all recognise is key.

“Chris Powell has not been given the opportunity this season to prove his true worth to the club with a number of his summer signings unable to contribute.

“Chris is a passionate man, certainly passionate about Southend United Football Club and his remit is to guide us back to the Championship, which we all thought to be a real prospect back in August.

“While wages alone are not necessarily a reflection of success in football, the ability to pay higher wages obviously provides a greater choice in the transfer market.

“This season Southend United are the fifth highest wage in League One, it is assumed Sunderland are top, with Luton, Barnsley and Portsmouth representing the top four.”

However, the Shrimpers have been hit by injuries to a number of key players and have now not triumphed in seven games.

The winless run has seen the 13th placed Blues fall to within four points of the relegation zone.

But the number of those unavailable has hit Southend hard.

“Ben Clarkson (head physio) and his team have been working tirelessly to try and turn fortunes around and get the players back out there as quick as possible but, unfortunately, some of the injuries have been season ending, months and months of rehabilitation after operations,” said the spokesman.

“A question I have been asked several times recently is ‘Do the players have their salary paid in full or is it like other businesses where they’re paid a fraction until full return?’

“Working in football myself, I was quite shocked at that question but for some, they won’t understand that whether a player is playing week in week out, 90 minutes per game or out injured for the whole season, their salaries are paid in full.

“This instantly leaves the club in a worse position and the negative is soon doubled if we bring someone in on loan or a permanent transfer in their place.

“For a prolonged period from December to March we have had over £20,000 a week worth of salaries in the treatment room.

“At any one time during that period over £1million of salaries are effectively redundant - little wonder performances have been less than we would have hoped for. This has necessitated ‘drafting’ in some of our younger squad members who have performed well, however wider choice for Chris would have of course helped.”

Blues head to Blackpool this weekend.