FORMER Southend United assistant manager Graham Coughlan feels Kevin Maher should be the next man in charge of the Shrimpers.

Coughlan worked alongside Maher at both Blues and Bristol Rovers.

And the Irishman believes Maher - who is still first team coach at Rovers - is the right man to replace Sol Campbell at Roots Hall.

“I do think it’s time for Kev to put his head above the parapet,” said Coughlan.

“He’s loyal to Bristol Rovers but opportunities like this are few and far between and I’m sure he would want it if it’s offered to him.

“I’ve seen first hand the quality he has and it would be an appointment which would also connect the club again because he’s a legend there so the fans would appreciate him coming back too.

"Kev would use his experience of the lower Leagues and the players he’s worked with to help the Shrimpers in their hour of need.”

Coughlan, who is now manager of Mansfield Town, spent eight years working with Blues.

And he opted to take Maher with just months after he was named Bristol Rovers boss in January 2019.

“Kev was brilliant for me when I was with the Shrimpers,” said Coughlan.

“Getting him in to take the 23s was massive for us and he worked with the first team too.

“I’ve seen his qualities, including his man management, his coaching quality and the skill-set he possesses so we got him on board at Bristol Rovers.

“He did a brilliant job for us, hence our league position which Kev had a big part to play in.

“And I would also have taken him to Mansfield with me had it been possible.”

Maher made 455 appearances for Blues during his 10 years as a player at Roots Hall before he returned for a four year spell as the club’s under 23 coach.

And Coughlan is certain Maher would have learnt plenty while with the Shrimpers.

“Working at Southend is the biggest education you could have,” said Coughlan.

“It was a massive eight years for me there and it’s not an easy club to be at.

“The experience Kev has gathered is very valuable and he’s got some wool on his back now.”