SOUTHEND United boss Kevin Maher is playing it safe with Oli Coker's fitness.

The midfielder has been troubled with a thigh problem in recent weeks.

And Maher will now not call upon the 20-year-old until he regains full fitness.

"He's outside doing some running but we want to be careful with him because it's been stop-start with him recently," said Maher.

"We want to make sure we get it right and we'll see how he is the next couple of days.

"We don't want him to keep on dropping out and we need to get to the root of the problem."

Coker missed matches against Halifax Town and Eastleigh before returning as a second half substitute at Chesterfield.

However, Coker was then forced to miss Saturday's 1-0 defeat to Gateshead after suffering more pain.