SOUTHEND United manager Phil Brown believes it is a ‘massive positive’ to have Nile Ranger back at the club.

The striker has now been released from Pentonville Prison where he had been since May after pleading guilty to online fraud.

And Brown is pleased to have Ranger back in training after beginning to fear the 26-year-old’s season was in doubt.

“I think it’s a massive positive for us to have Nile back because I was starting to fear the damage being done was going to be irreparable for his season,” said Brown.

“We knew he would be back at some stage but now we need to test his fitness to see where he’s at.”

Ranger began tests at Blues’ Boots & Laces training ground this afternoon.

But Brown – who is travelling to Rotherham United with his squad – has yet to receive the results and is not yet sure when Ranger will be available for selection.

“The testing has started on Nile and the outcome of that will determine whether or not he has to have his own brutal pre-season regime,” said Brown.

“I’ve spoken to Nile and everything is still very raw and sore for him.

“He has to get his head round things and start to improve his fitness.

“But I think it could take around a month for that to happen.”

However, Brown was reluctant to set an exact return date and still remains unsure if Ranger can feature in evening matches due to the terms regarding his release.

“Nile’s asked me that and I’ve said we’ll cross that bridge when it comes to it,” said the Blues boss.

“Him playing evening matches is the least of my worries at the moment, we need to get him fit.”

Ranger was originally sentenced to eight months in prison.

But a club statement confirmed he the striker had now been released.

"Nile Ranger was this morning released from Pentonville Prison after serving a little over 10 weeks," said the statement.

"Nile was eligible for early release under the HDC (Home Detention Curfew) Scheme, due to the short duration of his sentence and his consistently excellent custodial behaviour.

"Nile may regard himself as fortunate but will remain under an evening home curfew for the next five to six weeks.

"However, this will enable him to resume training immediately and Nile Ranger is today undergoing a fitness test and assessment that will help steer his training regime over the next seven to 10 days before he re-joins the squad."