ANT RUNS INTO HIS BEST FORM Southend mid­field man in the goals

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO - By John Lyons

THE foot­ball sea­son is a marathon and Southend United mid­fielder Anthony Wordsworth is keen to get some­thing off his chest – he runs his fair share of it.

The 28-year-old is frus­trated be­cause some crit­ics think he’s lazy or not pulling his weight. He be­lieves his run­ing style causes the mis­con­cep­tion.

“I’ve been la­belled as hav­ing a lazy run­ning tech­nique,” he said. “When I at Ip­swich, Mick Mc­Carthy said I was a bit of a lux­ury player, but then he saw the stats on how much I was run­ning.

“I had a chat with (Southend man­ager) Phil Brown about it and even he was surprised at how much I run. It doesn’t look like I’m run­ning that much.

Gal­lop­ing

“But my run­ning stats, in terms of dis­tance cov­ered and high in­ten­sity, are higher than ever now. I’ve been in the top two in the team at times and the stats are there. I want to get that out there.”

Point taken. And the truth is that both Wordsworth and Southend are gal­lop­ing into form at the right time af­ter a slow start to the campaign.

The Cam­den-born player missed the start of the sea­son with ten­donitis in his ham­string and the Shrimpers fell to sec­ond bot­tom in League One.

“Af­ter our first ten games, if you’d of­fered the boss sur­vival this sea­son he would prob­a­bly have taken it,” said Wordsworth.

Yet pre-week­end, Southend were sit­ting in sixth po­si­tion, hold­ing the fi­nal play-off spot ahead of Mill­wall on goal dif­fer­ence.

Wordsworth cred­its ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers, like Si­mon Cox, 29, Marc-An­toine For­tune, 35, and, in par­tic­u­lar, An­ton Fer­di­nand, 32, for a ma­jor part in the Shrimpers’ re­vival. “An­ton’s brought a re­ally good men­tal­ity to the team,” said Wordsworth.

“We were go­ing into dif­fi­cult games against top of the ta­ble teams look­ing to get a draw, but he was look­ing to win.

“We prob­a­bly had a fear fac­tor, but now we feel we can beat any­one. We’ve got play­ers who’ve

Catch-up

“You want to play against bet­ter play­ers, in big­ger sta­di­ums and in front of big crowds.”

If they do reach the sec­ond tier, then Wordsworth’s goals could be vi­tal. Ahead of the week­end, he’d al­ready notched ten this term.

“I was play­ing catch-up af­ter miss­ing the first ten games, so to score ten so quickly is pleas­ing,” he said. “I said ten was my tar­get pre-sea­son and I’ve been a onein-three, one-in-four man in my ca­reer, so to keep those stats go­ing is re­ally pleas­ing.

“I’ve been told I’m the first mid­fielder to score ten for the club since Nicky Bai­ley in 2006.”

As the sea­son en­ters the busi­ness end, it’s vi­tal play­ers switch off from time to time. So how does Wordsworth re­lax?

“I like to play a lit­tle golf with some of the boys,” he said. “Ben Coker and Si­mon Cox are re­ally good.

“I’ve also got three chil­dren – Len­non, 5, Jesse, 3, and Wil­low, one – and I spend a lot of time with them. Even my youngest is kick­ing foot­balls and they are all foot­ball-mad.”

It looks like more run­ning is on the cards… be­fore and ev­ery­thing is in place. We just have to do the busi­ness on the pitch.

“I made my de­but for Colch­ester in the Cham­pi­onship and had a stop-start time in the di­vi­sion with Ip­swich, but I’m hun­gry to get back there. been there and done it, and it’s im­por­tant to try to learn from them.”

Wordsworth says Brown de­serves credit for at­tract­ing high-cal­i­bre sign­ings to Roots Hall and is op­ti­mistic the Shrimpers won’t fall away like last sea­son, when they slipped to 14th by the end.

“The man­ager is a win­ner,” said Wordsworth. “He would do any­thing for three points. I mean lit­er­ally any­thing.

“He signed some re­ally big play­ers and the boys here from the start were re­ally pleased.

“The lads had come up from League Two, so they knew how to win games, but we had a few big play­ers that got in­jured to­wards the end of last sea­son. But Southend have been in the Cham­pi­onship

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Images

TOP OF THE PILE: Anthony Wordsworth is hit­ting the heights at Southend Insets: An­ton Fer­di­nand and boss Phil Brown

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