Southend v Gillingham preview

Team news ahead of the New Year's Day clash between Southend and Gillingham at Roots Hall (kick-off 1pm).

Last Updated: 01/01/13 at 13:32

Assombalonga: Facing a late fitness test

Assombalonga: Facing a late fitness test

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Southend are hopeful Britt Assombalonga will be fit to return for their New Year's Day fixture against fellow promotion contenders Gillingham.

The Watford loanee, who has scored 12 goals for the Shrimpers so far this term, was forced to sit out Saturday's defeat at Burton with a shin and ankle injury.

Assombalonga will undergo a fitness test ahead of the Gills clash, and is expected to go straight into Paul Sturrock's starting line-up if passed fit.

Barry Corr replaced Assombalonga in attack, but after the Blues saw their 14-match unbeaten run come to an end at the Pirelli Stadium, Sturrock will be hoping to revert to his winning formula.

Mark Phillips made his first appearance following a knee injury as a second-half substitute against the Brewers and is pushing for a start in defence.

David Martin and Freddy Eastwood also featured from the bench, giving Sturrock further alternatives.

Martin Allen has no injury or suspension concerns, but the Gillingham manager could still make changes.

The Gills have been given extra time to prepare for the game following the postponement of their fixture against Northampton, giving Allen the opportunity to weigh up his options following their Boxing Day defeat to Barnet.

Allen's players were booed off the pitch after the 1-0 loss and his team are under extra pressure after losing their top spot to Port Vale.

Chris Whelpdale, Jack Payne, and Adam Birchall all made substitute appearances against the Bees and are first in line for a recall to the starting line-up.

Danny Kedwell, Ben Strevens, and Andy Frampton are further options available to Allen ahead of a stern test against their fellow promotion hopefuls.

The Kent club are seeking to improve their recent form which has seen them win only one of their last six games.

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