Brown enjoying his early days by the seaside

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AS Phil Brown prepares to make his managerial return tomorrow against two key figures from his Hull City past, the Southend United boss believes his new charges can kick-start a play-off push with victory at Bradford City.

The 53-year-old ended a 13-month absence from the game earlier this week when appointed as successor to Paul Sturrock at Roots Hall.

Notwithstanding a bizarre wrangle caused by Shrimpers chairman Ron Martin suggesting Sturrock lead the club out at Wembley ahead of next week’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final, Brown’s first few days in Essex have been a breeze and he is looking forward to tomorrow’s reunion with Bantams duo Phil Parkinson and Steve Parkin.

He said: “When I first came into Hull (in October, 2006), funnily enough it was to work with Phil Parkinson (who was then Tigers manager).

“So, it is strange that my first game should be against Phil and Steve Parkin, who was one of my coaches at Hull.

“I knew before coming in what a big, strong, physical team Southend had. Add to that a couple of flair players that were in the team at Roots Hall and I thought, ‘this lot are going places’.

“We are not in the play-off spots right now. Having witnessed training for the last few days, I think we can get back in there.”

After the Easter double header against Bradford and Fleetwood Town, Brown’s attention will shift to the Wembley date against Crewe Alexandra.

Before then, the matter of who leads the team out will have to be resolved after Southend chairman Martin initially said, on appointing Brown, that the honour would fall to Sturrock despite his sacking.

Brown added: “It is a difficult one. When the chairman put it to me at the weekend and asked if I minded Paul leading the team out at Wembley, I didn’t have any real objections.

“I hadn’t got the team to Wembley, it was Paul’s work. The change of manager was down to league form so I said ‘yes’. I didn’t have a problem.

“But we had a chat on Tuesday and I tried to put it to bed by saying, ‘Lead the team out’. But he (Sturrock) wanted to coach and pick the team.

“Therein lies the problem and we are trying to get over that now. Fortunately, we are both reasonable men and we will come to a conclusion.”