SOUTHEND United manager Chris Powell is unsure when goalkeeper Mark Oxley will be back to full fitness.

Oxley has missed the last four matches with a back injury, with youngster Nathan Bishop impressing in his place.

But Powell will be monitoring the shot-stopper’s fitness in the next few days.

“Mark’s improving and we’ll see where he is in the next few days,” said Powell.

“We’ve got a little while now until we play Portsmouth but Bish has done what every player should do when they get a chance in the team.

“He’s posed a question to me and shown he wants to stay in the side with the performance he had against Gillingham.”

However, Powell also hinted that the fit-again Ted Smith could be called upon against Portsmouth in the Checkatrade Trophy next Tuesday.

Smith has not started a first team fixture for the Shrimpers since lining up against Newport County in the League Cup back in August 2017.

But the 22-year-old - who has been on the bench for the last four games - could line-up against Portsmouth.

“We’ve got young Ted as well and he’s chomping at the bit,” said Powell.

“We’ll see whoever is right to play in the game against Portsmouth.

“I want us to progress in that competition but I want us to progress in the League as well.”

Oxley, who started the season as Blues’ first choice goalkeeper, has also been nominated for player of the round in the Checkatrade Trophy after impressing in the penalty shoot-out success at Luton Town.

To vote for the keeper, visit