SOUTHEND United manager Sol Campbell has already noticed an improvement in his players.

The former England international has been in charge of Blues for five matches.

And he feels the Shrimpers have already made strides forward as they prepare to host Oxford United at Roots Hall on Saturday.

“We will have to be on our toes against Oxford but we will be,” said Campbell.

“Maybe a month ago it would’ve been a different story for us but most of our players have moved up five, 10 or 15 per cent performance wise.

“They’re doing more but we have to keep going.

“We have to keep working hard and take the handbrake off but we have to fight for every single point whoever we’re playing.”

Oxford are currently seventh in the League One standings, just a point outside the play-off positions.

In contrast, Blues sit second from bottom in the table having triumphed just once in 17 games this term.

But Campbell feels the Shrimpers were boosted by their 3-1 win against AFC Wimbledon in the Trophy last week and has enjoyed the subsequent break in the season.

“We’ve done some technical stuff, we’ve rested and done fitness work too since the last game,” said Campbell.

“Everything is moving in the right direction.

“I’m really pleased but we have to keep the faith and this intensity.

“But the Wimbledon game was more than a win for us as it gave us confidence.”

And Campbell is now keen to build on his first victory in charge.

“Against Wimbledon we showed we can play football, score goals and win games,” said Campbell.

“The performance was excellent and stood out for me.

“Everyone looked free and willing to pass and run.

“The spirit was good too.

“It may have been a dead rubber but it was just about getting that first win whatever competition it came in and we have to make sure we build on that now.”

However, Campbell is keen to up the work-load.

“We’ve got to go into games and compete,” said Campbell.

“We have to work harder than everyone else.

“We haven’t got the luxury of being mid-table and we are where we are.

“We’ve got to turn it around and we will turn it around but it’s going to be hard.”