CHRIS Powell will have been carefully monitoring areas of possible improvement since being appointed manager of Southend United.

But, during the course of Saturday’s drab 0-0 draw with Doncaster Rovers, the most obvious area of all became even more apparent – the Roots Hall pitch.

Ever since pre-season the surface has been tough to play on but right now the pitch is the worst I have seen in my 29 years of watching the Shrimpers.

Only a short spell in 2000 after an FA Cup clash with Canvey Island was given the go ahead in treacherous conditions can come close to matching the state of the surface which historically has always been of a high standard.

But right now the pitch is tough to walk on let alone play on and it is stifling the Shrimpers and their squad.

The players will be reluctant to comment publicly about the conditions as it would open them up to criticism and being accused of making excuses for dropping points.

Of course, the conditions – as the cliché says – are the same for both teams but Blues must play 23 of their League One games at Roots Hall and the problematic pitch has severely hindered them this season.

Quite how the pitch ended up in such a state is open for debate.

Some blame the harsh dismissal of head groundsman Ken Hare last January following a postponed clash with Bolton Wanderers while others also point towards a lack of a replacement.

Other murmurs are that too many charity and social matches were played on the pitch following the conclusion of last season and the surface was not given the time it needed to be in top condition.

The training pitches at Boots & Laces seem equally as poor and the situation simply has to be sorted to give the Shrimpers the best possible chance of success next season.

It may not be a popular decision but it could be a case of cancelling any proposed matches beyond the end of the first team season as areas of the pitch now seem more suited to hosting an Olympic long jump final than League One football.

On Saturday, the pitch pretty much ruined the game and led to what seemed an inevitable 0-0 draw.

The plus points included a superb double save from Mark Oxley who bounced back from making a rare mistake against Walsall by putting in another fine performance.

Further forward, Dru Yearwood also shone brightly in the centre of the park and given the number of questions boss Powell continues to be asked by national newspaper reporters about the 18-year-old midfielder it is clear he is beginning to earn himself a good reputation.

That is likely to lead to speculation surrounding Yearwood’s future this summer but the youngster is just 17 games into his career and must make sure he continues to play regularly to continue his rapid development.

However, Yearwood was unable to help Blues brush Doncaster aside at the weekend and the Shrimpers have now not beaten the South Yorkshire outfit in their last seven attempts during a run stretching back 10 years.

Powell’s side had the opportunities to end that winless streak on Saturday with Stephen McLaughlin wasting the clearest of the opportunities.

But a third clean sheet in seven games would have boosted Blues’ spirits, especially as just three shut-outs had been secured in the 14 games leading up to Powell’s arrival.

The Shrimpers chief will now be looking to build on the share of the spoils while also improving at the other end of the field where Blues have now failed to score in successive League One games for the first time this season.

Thankfully, the Roots Hall pitch will now face a break as Southend’s next two games are away from home.

But plans need to be put in place now for the necessary improvements to be made - unless Greg Rutherford is among the list of summer transfer targets!