Stanley boss John Coleman is hoping a free week can help two of his star players shake off knocks ahead of Saturday’s trip to Southend.

On loan defender Michael Ihiekwe wasn’t involved for the Reds in Saturday’s abandoned game with Sunderland at the Wham Stadium.

Meanwhile, seven-goal top scorer Billy Kee started the game but was brought off at the break and replaced by Connor Hall who scored an equaliser moments before play was brought to a halt.

The striker has started all but one of Stanley’s 20 league matches this season and has scored seven times, while Ihiekwe has been a firm fixture in the backline since joining on loan from Rotherham United.

Stanley are winless in their last six league matches, as are Southend, with Coleman keen to have both available for the trip to Roots Hall.

“They are two big players for us,” Coleman explained.

“Michael is struggling with his groin and Billy with his knee.

“Billy’s was getting worse which was why we took him off at half time.

“He was doing well competing in the air but he couldn’t really turn, or run, not that he runs much anyway!”

Stanley will need to reschedule the Sunderland match, and already face four more league matches before the year is up, including long trips to Southend and Plymouth in their next two fixtures.

They also have an FA Cup third round tie against Championship outfit Ipswich Town on January 5, with a Checkatrade Trophy last 16 knockout game against Bury to come in the following week.

So with the games piling up, and key players nursing knocks, Coleman is happy that Stanley don’t have a midweek game to contend with.

“When the conditions are like that it can sap the legs a little bit as well,” he added.

“We will do a bit of recovery work and get the lads fighting fit for next Saturday.”

More than 4,800 watched Stanley’s home defeat to Barnsley in November, with 400 more fans watching the game against Sunderland.

What would have been a record crowd at the Wham Stadium won’t now count in the record books after the abandonment.

But Coleman feels those who watched from the stands got good value for money from what they saw.

He said of the occasion: “It was good, a similar atmosphere to the Barnsley game.

“How many will make the trip out now on a Tuesday night we will have to see.

“There might even be more Sunderland fans.

“But we have to keep trying to grow the club and days like that are what we’re in the game for.”