STEPHEN McLaughlin felt Southend United were not affected by their difficult build up to Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Tranmere Rovers.

The Shrimpers squad held a meeting with chairman Ron Martin on Friday after the late payment of wages to nine players.

But McLaughlin insisted Blues never lost focus.

“We fight for each other and although it’s been a tough, tough week I don’t think it affected us at all,” said the Irishman.

“With nine boys not being paid it does have an effect on the boys who have been paid because you don’t want to see your mates struggling.

“We’re such a tight group but everything was sorted on Friday.”

The players had all been due to receive their wages for December on New Year’s Eve.

But McLaughlin said the squad had been reassured during their talks with the chairman.

“We had to have the meeting because we as players have to know what state the club is in but the chairman has reassured us,” said the 29-year-old.

“He was honest with us which is what you want as a player.

“He said it was a mix up and you have to take him at face value.

“There was a fault with the lawyers, a lack of communication or whatever it was and he said it won’t happen again.

We asked the question if the club was good and he told us everything was fine.

“He was relaxed and said there was absolutely no issue.

“We believe him and we more on together as a team and as a club and we look forward to the next game.”

Blues’ draw with Tranmere was their fifth stalemate in seven games.

But McLaughlin, who lined up at left wing-back, was frustrated not to pick up all three points.

“We’re gutted we’ve drawn,” said McLaughlin.

“It’s a good point but we know we could’ve won that game.”

McLaughlin came close to scoring with a low shot which Rovers goalkeeper Aaron Chapman diverted just wide of the right post in the second half.

But he was boosted by Blues’ clean sheet at the other end of the field.

“The clean sheet is important,” said Mclaughlin.

“The boys are putting their bodies on the line and making important clearances.

“We just need to be more clinical in front of goal but that will come in the next couple of games hopefully.

“You have to keep believing and we have goalscorers in our team. It will turnaround.”