Rob Kelly has hailed the professionalism of Connor Brown after the defender’s return to action after a wait of more than three months.

Brown starred in the survival-clinching win at Forest Green and could be involved against Southend today (Progression Solicitors Stadium, 3pm).

It was the 29-year-old’s first appearance since January 9, Brown having been among the players sidelined by ex-boss Michael Jolley.

Kelly, though, brought Brown and other senior figures back into the squad – and the caretaker boss said his role was crucial in helping Barrow over the survival line.

“This is what I mean when I speak about everyone being pitched in together and behind the same cause,” Kelly said.

“Connor was on the outside, I managed to get him back involved, and he’s trained like I knew he would do – like the true professional he is.

“I had no hesitation in picking him at Forest Green.

“I’ve toyed with starting him in one or two other games but I just thought he needed a little bit more time, because he hadn’t played any football, to get him up to speed.

“But I had no doubt he would help us. That’s been the mark of all those players. They’ve committed to every day.

“It’s similar to Jason Taylor when we brought him back from furlough. It’s the mark of good professionals.”

Kelly said the experience of the likes of Brown, Taylor, Neal Eardley and Calvin Andrew was key to Barrow’s memorable midweek win.

He could change things again for this afternoon’s clash with Phil Brown's Southend side, who are on the brink of the drop.

Today’s second-bottom visitors are six points adrift of safety with two games to play – and must also claw back a big goal difference deficit.

Kelly said his team would be ready to face a side battling for everything today.

He said: “I’m interested in Southend now because we play them. After that, with the best will in the world, they’re nothing to do with me. We move on and take care of Barrow.

“I don’t mean that in a disrespectful way. They’ve had a couple of good results, and they’re still in there fighting.

“We know it’s going to be a competitive game but we’ll go about it as we have done since I’ve been in charge.

“We’ll be respectful, know what they do, but we’ll take care of our business. We’re going into it trying to win it and will pick a team with that in mind.”