SOUTHEND United are set to go head-to-head with Gillingham in a pre-season friendly next month.

Kevin Bond, in his first summer in charge of Blues, has been hard at work organising encounters ahead of the new League One campaign getting underway in August.

And the Shrimpers will now visit Priestfield for their final friendly eight days before the big kick-off.

Gillingham will welcome Blues to their Kent home on Friday, July 26, with kick-off scheduled for 7pm.

The Gills are now bossed by Steve Evans, who was linked with the Shrimpers hotseat after Chris Powell’s dismissal in March.

However, after a solitary clash with academy manager Ricky Duncan at the helm, Blues chairman Ron Martin appointed Bond.

Ticket details for the friendly will be announced in due course.

Meanwhile, Blues will also face Championship side Reading in a behind closed doors contest as they prepare for Bond’s first full campaign at Roots Hall.

The Shrimpers are set to go head-to-head with the Royals on Saturday, July 6.

Southend are then due to make the short trip to Billericay Town to take on the National League South side on Tuesday, July 9.

Bond will take his squad down to Dorset for a five-day training camp which will begin with an encounter against Weymouth on Friday, July 12.

A second behind closed doors friendly of the summer will take place against League Two side Exeter City on Wednesday, July 17.

Blues will then be closer to home on Saturday, July 20, with Bond’s outfit going up against a Dagenham & Redbridge side bossed by ex-Shrimpers player and manager Peter Taylor.

Southend will welcome Neil Harris’ Millwall to Roots Hall on Wednesday, July 24.