AARON McLean is expecting a ’fascinating’ contest when Southend United host table-topping Chesterfield at Roots Hall this afternoon.

The former Grays Athletic striker will be covering the game for TNT Sports.

And he is looking forward to finally seeing the Shrimpers in action.

“I think it’s going to be really good and I’m glad we’ve managed to get down to Southend to be honest,” said McLean.

“There always seem to be a different news story coming out of the club that we’re talking about every week so it will be good to actually go there because we’ve spoken about them a lot.

“The manager and his staff are doing a great job so I’m looking forward to being there, taking in the atmosphere and hopefully seeing a good game.”

Blues will head into the clash short of players once again but McLean feels it has the makings of an interesting encounter.

“I think it will be a fascinating game,” said McLean.

“Southend are very strong at home, winning seven out of nine and it’s where they’re happiest.

“But they’re up against the best team in the division on Saturday and the team who are looking like they’re going to go on and run away with it.

“Coming off the back of the win against second placed Barnet they’ll be bouncing into the game.

“I’m sure they will be more than confident of getting a result and extending their lead at the top.”

McLean will be eagerly covering what unfolds for the live television coverage.

And he is relishing his role in front of the camera.

“I’m loving it and it’s definitely the direction I see my future going in,” said McLean.

“It’s crazy how it all came about really.

“I was coaching at Peterborough and during Covid I got let go.

“Sky Sports asked me to come in and watch a few games and it all snowballed from there.

“I got given the opportunity to go and do a bit of punditry and I really enjoyed it.

“Obviously the people that make the decisions enjoyed what I was bringing so I gradually just got more and more work.

“Before I knew it I was a regular and working for multiple different networks.”

However, McLean initially felt a career in television was not possible after opting to hang up his boots.

“Coaching seemed like the natural progression if I’m honest,” said McLean.

“I would have loved to go into punditry but it felt like it was very much invite only.

“When you looked at the players on TV it was very much those who had played hundreds of games in the Premier League and played internationally too.

“It wasn’t something I felt I would get the opportunity to do but I’ve tried to grab it with both hands.”

The punditry role has continued McLean's involvement in football after a fine playing career which is perhaps best remembered for spells with Peterborough United and Hull City.

However, McLean excelled at Grays Athletic at the start of the career and loved lining up for Mark Stimson’s side.

“It was amazing,” said McLean.

“I absolutely loved it and it gave me the grounding and experience to go on and have a long career.

“But I look back with a bit of regret because the team we had we should have got promoted into the Football League and who knows where Grays could have been had that happened.

“That’s a regret I do have.

“We won the FA Trophy but we should’ve gone up.

“Accrington went up that season and seeing how they’ve managed to kick on and progress I do look and think what if.”