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Southend United bring in two ex-Premier League players

Southend United bring in two ex-Premier League players, coming into the League Two strugglers on trial and could sign the dotted line.

The Shrimpers look to be in a serious relegation battle for the 2020/21 season, sitting just a point above the drop zone, however the two teams below them have games in hand.

Manager Mark Molesley, who saw his side pick up a draw against the league leaders Cambridge on Saturday, is currently having a look at the free agents market and this week, Nile Ranger and Jay Simpson are reportedly in training along with winger Ricky Holmes.

The boss hinted when speaking with that media that he had been impressed by what he has seen so far from the trialists.

“There are a couple of people training with us at the moment we like the look of,” said Molesley.

“We will have to see how the week pans out but I’m more than happy with what’s around me at the moment with the reaction and the character they’ve shown.

“But all it is is a week and we now have to make sure weeks turn into months and keep getting better.”

Southend United bring in two ex-Premier League players with one of them being ex-Newcastle player Nile Ranger, who has been unable to train for the past few weeks after suffering a calf problem but will be keen to secure a return to the Shrimpers who he left in January 2018 due to his antics.

Boyhood Southend fan Ricky Holmes has been without a club since departing Northampton in January and told the Echo last month he would jump at the chance to join his hometown club.

“I’ve given my agent a list of clubs and Southend was definitely at the top of the tree,” said Holmes.

“Everyone knows I’m a boyhood Southend fan and I used to sell programmes there as kid.

“It’s the club I check the results for first every week and it’s just a shame they’re not doing as well as they can.

“But if they gave me a call then I’d definitely be very, very keen to come down and sign and try to help the club the best I can.”

Holmes believes Mark Molesley’s side can definitely stay up, adding: “I speak to a few of the lads there and they’re well behind the manager.

“The players they’ve got in they’ve got enough to get out of trouble too.

“I’ve just re-bought in Billericay as well so everything is in place for me to sign for the club.

“It’s just whether we can get a deal down or if the manager wants to go down that route.

“But with the experience I’ve gained down the years I could be a big asset to the club.”

Holmes, who came through the Shrimpers’ youth system at the start of his career, has gone on to make 320 senior appearances, scoring 60 goals in total for the likes of Chelmsford, Barnet, Portsmouth, Northampton, Charlton, Oxford, Sheffield United and Gillingham.

The 33 year old winger is now training at the Essex based outfit alongside former Leyton Orient striker Jay Simpson.

The 32-year-old spent has had a youth career with Norwich and Arsenal, before making appearances for the likes of Millwall, QPR and Hull City during his career which has seen him play in both the USA and Cyprus.

Simpson has 82 career goals to his name and has the experience of playing top flight football with West Brom.

Should all three players sign a deal to joining the club permanently, they will be looking to play a big part in helping Southend try and avoid relegation to the National League.

Mark Molesley said on the draw against Cambridge which saw them move out of the drop zone for the first time since October: “I was really pleased with the performance. I think the attitude, the endeavour and the work rate in tough conditions, our second away game in a week and against the team top of the table, was always going to be a tough challenge but think it’s a game where we more than matched them.

“We had a lot of shots but probably didn’t test their ‘keeper enough, but conditions were quite dry and slippery at stages and that final pass, that final shot, we just couldn’t quite get away.

“It was a full action game. We more than matched them and showed the right attitude, work rate and endeavour, and we showed all the fighting characteristics this week that we’re going to need. All we’ve done is given ourselves a platform to continue to build on that.”

On a couple of first-half penalty shouts, he added: “It was quite a strong [shout for a penalty on Nathaniel-George] – Ash has gone across him and the ref’s either got to do him for diving or it’s a penalty. I don’t know what else he could have come up with. He certainly gave him a clean pair of heels, was in front of him and was pulled back twice by him as well before that, so that was his third foul on him.

“It wasn’t given and we can only control what we can control. I haven’t seen it back again but in the heat of it, you always feel that should have been a penalty. I’ll have to see it again but certainly looked a good shout for one certainly.

“Then, bizarrely, later in the first-half, Simeon’s about to head it on goal and has got volleyed in the head and got the free-kick against him for it. I’m not sure what happened there, when you get kicked in the head and the free-kick goes the other way, but that could have been a penalty.”

On the response shown in the last week, he said: “The only thing we can focus on is ourselves. I think we are improving very quickly – we have done this week and we needed to. We’ve gone toe-to-toe with the top two teams in the league this week.

“No one was hurting more than us after Port Vale. That was our lowest point of the season and we had to show a lot of character. We’ve been written off a lot this season and we’ve had to get ourselves back off the canvas again.

“We’ve given ourselves a fighting chance again, that’s all we’ve given ourselves, and we’ve got to continue to build on this. This can be a good point if we follow it up, but we’ve got to consistently put results together.

“Four points for a week’s work is good, but we’ve got to continue to build on that and there’s plenty of hard work ahead of us.”

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