PETER Clarke wants Blues to be packing a punch against Northampton Town on Boxing Day.

Southend have been on the ropes in recent weeks, going seven league games without a win.

And Clarke insists it is imperative to end that wretched run when the Cobblers visit Roots Hall this Friday.

“What’s going on at the moment is very disappointing and we have to win against Northampton,” said the 26-year-old centre-back told the Echo.

“It’s been well documented where our problems lie and what has been said is correct.

“We’re too nice right now and teams are taking advantage. That has to change and we need to get back to winning ways on Friday.”

The Shrimpers’ last league win came against Leeds United in late October but Clarke remains confident of turning things around.

And he is sure Southend’s new-look defence — which is likely to include both Osei Sankofa and Johnny Herd as Adam Barrett and Dan Harding serve one match suspensions — will be able to impress against the Cobblers.

“There are going to be changes at the back but we have to be able to deal with that,” said Clarke.

“Johnny has done well when he’s played in the cup so I’m sure he can do that again. It’s a very important game and one we hope can kick-start our season again.”

Southend have taken just three points from the last 28 on offer and are now 14th in the table.

But Blues want to get back on track and will be in for training on Christmas Day.

“It’s the correct decision to bring us in,” claimed Clarke. “We need to prepare as well as we can and work hard to get on form again.

“Losing at Hartlepool was disappointing and the league table isn’t nice to look at right now because we all want to be much higher up.”

Clarke still believes Southend can rise up the standings.

And he is refusing to give up on helping the club reach the play-offs.

“We’ve made things difficult for ourselves and it will take a massive push to finish in the top six but we can do it,” he said.

“We showed last season what you can do with a late run but we have to end this run we’re on and we have to do it sooner rather than later too.”