SOUTHEND United’s Mark Oxley is eager to prove his form and fitness during a ‘massive’ pre-season for the shot-stopper.

Oxley - who had been out of action since December - played the first 45 minutes of the Shrimpers’ 0-0 draw with Partick Thistle on Saturday.

And the 26-year-old is now keen to build on his comeback.

“This pre-season is massive for me and I feel like I need to prove what I’m capable of again,” said Oxley.

“It’s more so for myself really than anything else because I need to get that confidence back in my elbow.

“But hopefully it’s onwards and upwards now.”

Oxley joined Blues after leaving Hibernian last summer and established himself as the club’s number one choice between the sticks.

The custodian made 24 appearances before suffering an injury setback he admitted was tough to take.

“It was all very frustrating,” said Oxley.

“I’ve been out since Christmas Eve, which feels like a lifetime ago now and the fact the team was pushing for the play-offs made getting injured even worse.

“I ended up having to have an operation and I had two weeks off after that which I think you probably need when you’re down in the dumps like that.

“Thankfully it went well and I could probably have pushed for a comeback towards the end of last season.

“But we decided not to take any risks which was definitely for the best and everything is feeling much stronger now.

“The injury is a long way gone now and I just need to make sure I keep on looking forward not back.”

Oxley’s next opportunity to impress will come in tomorrow’s pre-season clash with Ipswich Town.

But he thoroughly enjoyed playing the first 45 minutes in Saturday’s game with Partick Thistle.

“It was good to be back and to be back with the lads as well,” said Oxley, who pulled off four good saves against the Scottish side.

“My elbow was tested and psychologically it was good to get through it but I’m looking to push on now.”

Oxley will be keen to re-establish himself in goal for the Shrimpers but will face competition from Ted Smith, who made 21 appearances last term.

>BLUES have been drawn alongside Gillingham and Colchester in the group stages of the Checkatrade Trophy.

Their final opponent will be confirmed tomorrow.