Same again for Cook’s battlers

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PAUL Cook will stick with the side that beat Northampton Town almost a fortnight ago for the visit of Paul Sturrock’s Southend United.

Right back Drew Talbot is still a week away from consideration with his broken toe, so skipper Sam Hird will continue in that position whilst transfer-listed Neal Trotman will be at centre half alongside Liam Cooper.

Nathan Smith, according to Cook: “The most improved player since I’ve been here,” will remain at left back.

Craig Clay gets the nod over Mark Randall in the holding midfield position alongside Sam Togwell whilst the attacking trio behind striker Marc Richards will again be Tendayi Darikwa, Jay O’Shea and Danny Whitaker.

New signings Armand Gnanduillet, who the manager described as ‘very raw’ and Richard Brindley will be on the bench as will, for the first time, youth team keeper Josh Barrington.

Gnanduillet, born in Angers and recruited this week from Poissy, has shown plenty of aggression in training.

“Just ask Liam Cooper,” the manager said and the Frenchman himself, who had a trial spell ahead of signing his short term deal, names bull-nosed striker Andy Carroll as the English player he most admires.

Cook has indicated there’s unlikely to be any fresh movement ahead of the game though the club is believed to be in contact with Everton about a potential loan player. The Toffees are one of the top flight clubs that have been linked with December’s Young League Player of the Month Darikwa, but the manager has indicated that no approaches for him have been made.

Fans have been clearing the Proact pitch of snow today and though forecasts indicate there may be more snow tonight, the club is confident the game will go ahead.