SOUTHEND United skipper Ben Coker is eager to get the better of his close friend Jack Payne at Blackburn Rovers this weekend.

Payne - who lined up alongside Coker at the Shrimpers before leaving in 2016 - is currently on loan at Blackburn Rovers from Huddersfield Town.

But Coker will be aiming to keep the attacking midfielder quiet this weekend.

“I’m planning on giving him a kick early on and then hopefully he’ll just go missing after that,” laughed Coker.

“I still talk to Jack quite a bit so it’s going to be a bit strange if we’re playing against each other.

“But you just have to get on with it and we’ll be both be doing all we can to get the win.

“I just hope it’s us who gets the result but we know it’s going to be very tough there.”

Rovers top the League One table having been beaten just once in their last 28 games.

But Coker is looking forward to the challenge of taking on Tony Mowbray’s side.

“These are the games you want to play in and we’re all buzzing for Saturday,” said Coker.

“Blackburn are a big club with a big ground and they were in the Premier League not that long ago so we’re looking forward to going there.

“I’m sure there will be a good atmosphere because they’re going for promotion but we’ve done well against the top teams this season.

“We’ve beaten a few of them already this season and we want to go there and try and beat another one.”

Blackburn will be strong favourites to come out on top.

But Coker insists Blues are desperate to put on a strong performance.

“I know people might say there’s more pressure on Blackburn and maybe there is but we put pressure on ourselves to play well,” said Coker.

“We were all delighted with the win against Gillingham and scoring four times in the first half like we did was great.

“But we have to go and build on that now.”

And Coker believes a bright start is important.

“We started well against Gillingham and we need to go and make sure we do that again,” said the left-back.

“We need to be on the front foot right away but this is an exciting game for us.”