SOUTHEND United winger Stephen McLaughlin will be pushing to prove his return to full fitness ahead of tomorrow’s crunch clash at Bristol Rovers.

McLaughlin has not featured for the Shrimpers since injuring ankle ligaments against Charlton Athletic at the end of December.

But the Irishman is now back in full training and is eager to face the Pirates this weekend despite suffering a slight setback at the start of the week.

“I’ll be trying to be available for Saturday and hopefully I will be because I want to play a part and help us get points on the board,” said McLaughlin.

“All the games we have left are massive now and this is no different.

“It’s been a long few months for me but I’ve done a lot of work in that time and it’s getting close again now.

“I had a bit of a setback at the start of the week but hopefully I’ll train today and see where that brings me.”

McLaughlin, who scored six goals in 25 starts before getting injured, returned to training last week and had originally been hoping to return to the squad for Saturday’s game against Port Vale at Roots Hall.

“I thought I would be involved last week but the gaffer had other ideas and he didn’t want to risk me,” said the 26-year-old.

“I did the warm up and it was good.

“It made me hungry but maybe I was too hungry because I then suffered another slight niggle.

“Thankfully it’s not too bad but I’ll see how it is in training.”

McLaughlin will continue to be assessed by the club’s medical staff.

And the former Nottingham Forest wide-man is keen to repay them for their work.

“I’ve done a lot of work with Jamie Douglas and Ben Clarkson and they’ve been great,” said McLaughlin.

“I’ve had setbacks along the way.

“One day I felt I could play but the next it would swell up and I couldn’t do anything.

“But they’ve done a lot of work with me and it’s a credit to them I’m back so soon because I was originally told I would be out for 12 weeks and it’s only been nine so I want to repay them.”