SOUTHEND United striker Freddy Eastwood has revealed he will never fully recover from the knee injury which forced his recent spell on the sidelines.

The fans’ favourite returned to action at Torquay United on Saturday after almost two months out of action.

And, despite declaring himself fully fit for action, Eastwood knows the injury will now need careful monitoring throughout the remainder of his career.

“I think we’re at the stage now where my right knee is never going to be 100 per cent right again and we’re going to have to monitor it all the time,” said Eastwood, 30.

“From now on I don’t think I’m going to be out on the training ground as much as the other lads and I’m going to have to keep fit in the pool and in the gym to ensure I can be OK for the matches.

“It’s not ideal, but I think the medical staff, the manager and myself all realise that that’s the way it’s going to have to be from now on.”

Eastwood started the current campaign in fine form, scoring in four successive games before also netting a late winner at Burton Albion. The forward, who is now in his second spell with the Shrimpers, then saw his progress halted by injury. But Eastwood feels the setback could actually work in his favour during the second half of the season.

“It was obviously frustrating not playing. But I saw the team play about eight or 10 times and learnt a lot more about all of my team-mates,” said Eastwood.

“When I get back into the team I will now have more of an understanding about everyone and hopefully I can start getting a few more goals.

“Fair play to Kevan Hurst – who has done well since I got injured and is now top goalscorer – but he isn’t a striker, so I’ll certainly be trying hard to overtake him now.”

Eastwood’s next chance to hit the back of the net is likely to come on Friday night when Rochdale visit Roots Hall.

And the striker is backing Blues to bounce back from the disappointing 1-0 defeat they suffered at bottom-of-the-table Torquay last weekend.

“We’ve reacted well to defeats so far this season and I’m sure we will win again,” said Eastwood. “The top three is where we want to be and it would certainly be a big boost to be in those automatic promotion places at Christmas.”