SOUTHEND United defender Rob Kiernan could be close to ending 17 months of injury hell.

Kiernan has lined up just twice since joining the Shrimpers in the summer of 2017 and has undergone surgery on both knees in that time.

But Blues boss Chris Powell has now revealed the 27-year-old centre-back is stepping up his rehabilitaton work.

"Rob Kiernan is back running at full pelt," said Powell.

"He’s doing sprint work and I’ve seen him head it, volleying, passing and doing a lot of work.

"He’s not back with us yet but he will be by the end of the month as long as he continues in the same way.

"He’s working very hard and he’s very close to joining in with the warm ups and the early ball work."

Kiernan has not featured for Blues since facing Rotherham United in August 2017.