HALSTEAD Town manager Mark McLean wants his players to "strip things back to basics" and get their workrate levels back up to scratch.

The Humbugs boss delivered an honest assessment of his team's performance when they lost 3-1 at May and Baker on January 10.

They had no Thurlow Nunn League first division south fixture last weekend so resume their campaign at Hackney Wick on Saturday.

McLean is confident they can get back on track and was encouraged by his players' attitude and performance in a friendly against a Southend-based academy side on Sunday afternoon.

"It's about stripping things back to basics and working hard," said the Scot, who also took the opportunity to watch Hackney Wick's 3-2 victory at Benfleet on Saturday.

"Our work ethic has to improve and we can't just rely on ability.

"You can have all the talent in the world but if your workrate isn't up to scratch it won't get you anywhere.

"It sounds like an excuse but it's not ideal having to travel to London on a Friday night.

"The boys have had a long week at work and it breaks their routines.

"It takes a long time to get there and when that happens you fall into a bit of a slumber.

"They looked a shadow of themselves and I know those factors had a lot to do with the way we played.

"I'm look for a response this weekend but already feel we're back on track, after playing some very, very good football against the academy side on Sunday.

"It already feels like we're back on the bus, so to speak.

"Now we need to get the wheels rolling again in a competitive match."

McLean hopes to have a fully-fit squad for Saturday's match, although has to decide whether to include Jake Brown.

The Humbugs skipper is struggling with an ongoing ankle problem.

"It's not worth taking any risks," added the Halstead boss, whose side have another free weekend on February 1.

"It's not worth making the situation worth and losing him long-term."