SOUTHEND United boss Kevin Maher says his Shrimpers squad have been visibly lifted since overcoming an uncertain opening to pre-season training.

Blues started preparing for the forthcoming National League campaign, at the end of June, not knowing if they would be able to play due to issues surrounding the club’s ownership.

But, after the consortium headed up by Justin Rees, agreed revised terms with Shrimpers’ chairman Ron Martin, there is now renewed confidence in the club’s forthcoming campaign.

READ MORE: See Blues' full fixture list here 

And Maher has noticed a big difference among his players.

“It's been good,” said Maher.

“You could tell maybe that the first week was a little bit flat because of the uncertainty surrounding the football club.

“I think it’s been the same for players, staff and supporters alike when you needed that clarity about where we’re going and what we’re able to do.

“But to come out of the embargo was really good and to make a couple of signings was great too.

“The players are in good shape and working hard.”

The Shrimpers will step up their pre-season preparations by taking on Great Wakering Rovers at Burroughs Park on Saturday.

And Maher is looking forward to the contest and a more normal summer schedule after last season's preparations were severely hindered by off the field issues.

"Last season’s pre-season showed new things in terms of preparation so it’s nice to have a traditional early game this year so we can get going," said Maher.

"Being local it’s good for fans to get down and it will be nice to go to Wakering with Marcus (Bowers) and everyone there.

"We’ll manage it and we will go through it with Stef (Russo) in terms of minutes players will get.

"We will have a plan throughout pre-season and how we go about it."

The warm up games have been organised to ensure the Shrimpers are in the best possible shape for the start of the season at the beginning of the August.

And Maher was pleased to see his side take their place in the league's fixture list which was released yesterday and confirmed Blues would host York City on the opening day.

"It’s good news and another milestone now that the fixtures are out," said the Blues boss.

"Everyone can start planning their trips and the games they’re going to.

"It’s also a realisation that the season is going to be upon us pretty soon.

"We’re pleased they’re out and to start at home is hopefully good.

"I’m sure we’ll have a good crowd in and York will bring a good following too.