SOUTHEND United manager Chris Powell is unsure when goalkeeper Mark Oxley will be ready to return to action.

Oxley has missed the Shrimpers' last four matches with a back problem.

And Powell does not know when the shot-stopper will be fit enough to return.

"Mark has been to see a specialist and the progress is slower than we thought it would be," said the Blues boss.

"I thought it would only be a matter of weeks but he’s missed quite a bit of football so he would still need a number of weeks once he gets the go-ahead so I won’t put a time limit on it.

"He did it in training and it’s got progressively worse.

"It’s a real shame."

Oxley - who last featured for Blues against Accrington Stanley in mid-December - has been replaced between the sticks by Nathan Bishop.