SOUTHEND United striker Tom Hopper is hopeful of being back at full fitness for the start of pre-season training.

The 25-year-old has been out of action with a knee problem since October.

But the forward, who had scored seven goals in 13 starts before being sidelined, is pleased with the progress being made.

“It’s been six and a half months now post op and it’s going well at the moment,” said Hopper.

“You take each day as it comes because you have good ones and bad ones and being injured is a real roller-coaster ride.

“But I’m back outside running again which is nice and I’m certainly aiming to be back for the start of pre-season.

“If everything goes to plan and there’s no reaction there’s no reason why that shouldn’t happen either.”

Hopper will continue to work hard throughout the summer before the rest of the Shrimpers squad report back at the start of July.

And the forward is keen to come back strongly.

“It’s tough being injured and it tests you mentally but it makes you stronger and is a great test of character,” said Hopper.

“There’s a few of us still here working together - Cokes (Ben Coker), Kyps (Harry Kyprianou), Sam (Barratt) and Lewis (Gard) and we’re all helping each other along with the staff who are all working just as hard as us.

“But the challenge is to get back and do as well as I was before the injury or even better if possible to help the team pick up the results we all want.”