Lee Bell could once again take the captain's armband for Crewe against Southend, presuming he recovers from a calf problem.

The midfielder, who has enjoyed two spells with the club, has been sidelined for two games with the injury he sustained in the draw with local rivals Port Vale.

Centre-back Dave Artell is doubtful again with a hamstring strain and fellow defender Danny Shelley is struggling with an ankle injury.

The Alex's leading marksman Shaun Miller will probably be restored to the starting XI by manager Dario Gradi after he was rested for the Johnstone's Paint Trophy win over Macclesfield.

Miller's inclusion could be one of a number changes Gradi makes with midfielder Ashley Westwood and forward Ajay Leitch-Smith among those likely to be recalled.

Southend will assess Anthony Grant ahead of the trip as Ryan Hall pushes for a starting berth following his brace in midweek.

Midfielder Grant was replaced after 52 minutes of Tuesday's 3-1 Johnstone's Paint Trophy victory at Dagenham nursing an ankle injury. He rested on Thursday and will be assessed on Friday, although manager Paul Sturrock will not take any chances with his fitness.

Hall - along with Grant, Bilel Mohsni and Blair Sturrock - was one of four changes to United's starting XI at Victoria Road and duly made his mark by bagging an impressive brace, while also missing a penalty.

Hall's contribution leaves Sturrock with a welcome decision to make having kept faith with the same XI for back-to-back victories over promotion rivals Rotherham and Shrewsbury which have left Southend at the top of League Two.

Midfielder Lee Sawyer (thigh) failed to get some minutes under his belt at Dagenham having initially been pencilled in to make his return, striker Barry Corr continues to make slow progress with his recovery from a long-term knee problem while Harry Crawford (knee) is out for around three to four weeks.

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