SOUTHEND United manager Phil Brown will be bidding to get the better of one of his closest friends in football this weekend.

Blues head to Barrow looking to keep alive their slim survival hopes.

And the clash will also see the Shrimpers boss facing his former assistant Neil McDonald for the first time in a competitive fixture.

“I know Neil very well, he’s one of my closest friends in the game and this will be the first time we’ve gone up against each other really,” said Brown.

“He was at Bolton with me, he was my assistant at Swindon and also at Hyderabad when we went out to India together.

“He was at West Ham with Sam (Allardyce) too and we did play them in a pre-season at Roots Hall at that time.

“Neil has gone in there 13 or 14 games ago so he’s certainly made a difference alongside the manager and they’ve done well.”

Barrow are now safe from relegation after their 2-0 win at Forest Green Rovers on Tuesday night and Brown is now digging deep in a bid to ensure Blues can do likewise.

The odds are firmly stacked against the second from bottom Shrimpers who must win their last two games while also hoping Scunthorpe United fail to pick up another point.

Blues must also secure an eight goal swing to move above the Iron.