SOUTHEND United’s youth team coach Danny Heath has been encouraged by his side’s start to the season but will be taking nothing for granted at Billericay Town on Friday night.
Blues head to New Lodge for an FA Youth Cup second round qualifying clash.
And Heath knows the hosts will make it hard for the Shrimpers to progress.
“Billericay are a good side with a good style of play and they’re hardworking too,” said Heath.
“When the draw was made we were in our staff meeting and it was Billericay or Cockfosters we would play.
“We quickly checked on Billericay’s Twitter and saw their match was the same night so we went and watched.
“I’ve seen Billericay twice more since then too so I know we will have to be at our best if we are to have any chance of qualifying for the next round and the boys know they will have to put the work in to win.
“Against Luton on Friday we had three or four players touching 12km in running distance and three or four around 11.5km .
“We will need that again on Friday and we will have to be prepared to roll our sleeves up.
“We will need to earn the right to play.”
The Shrimpers head into the tie having beaten Luton Town on penalties in the Youth Alliance Cup.
And Heath is happy with how Blues’ youngsters have been performing.
“The boys have done really well so far,” said Heath.
“We’ve played four in the league, we’ve won three and lost one.
“We’re third or fourth in the league at the moment with a couple of games in hand.
“In terms of the performance and the position the boys are happy.
“I think it’s one of the best starts in the last three or four seasons that we’ve had.”
However, Heath has not allowed his side to think about Friday's cup tie until after their last match with Luton.
“We banned any talk of the Youth Cup until after that game,” said Heath.
“The focus is always the next game and that won’t change.
“But we’re looking forward to it.
“The boys themselves have said it’s just another game of football but it’s an opportunity for them to put in a good performance and see what that takes us on the night.
“The boys have come in this week and trained really well.
“Hopefully they can take that into the game on Friday night now.”