SOUTHEND United youngster Lewis Gard is pleased with the progress he is making with his long-term knee injury – but will not be setting a date for his comeback just yet.

The 19-year-old midfielder suffered a cruciate ligament injury in the Shrimpers’ 2-0 defeat to Colchester United in the Checkatrade Trophy last October.

But Gard, who has made four appearances for Blues’ first team, is still working tirelessly to force his way back to full fitness.

“It’s going really well at the moment and I’m pleased with how it’s going,” said Gard.

“We’re eight months into it now and Ben (Clarkson) is happy with the way it’s going too.

“I’m not going to set myself any kind of targets for a comeback or anything like that and I’ll just be taking it day by day.

“I’ve had some tests this week which I haven’t had the results of just yet but hopefully they will be positive and we can kick on from there.

“The next target for me is to run on the AlterG treadmill and then the one after that is for me to be outside running.”

And, although Gard will not be rushing his comeback, he cannot wait to return to action.

“Everyone is back in now for pre-season so it can be a bit annoying in a way looking out the window and seeing them train because you want to be doing the same but it does make you hungrier,” said Gard.

“I was in all summer but it works well in a way because there’s more time for you to be treated and I feel like I’ve made good progress.”

And Gard was also quick to thank those around him for their continued support in the treatment room.

“We had a few players get injured at the same time and we’ve all been there for each other,” said Gard.

“Tom Hopper, Harry Kyprianou, Sam Barratt and Ben Coker before he left were all in and whenever one of us had a bad day and felt quite down we would all keep them going.

“In a weird kind of way we’ve been lucky to have each other because we’ve been able to do all the work together.”

Gard - who has been with the Shrimpers since the age of eight - will now be looking to keep progressing and was further boosted by having an extra year activated on his contract during the summer.

“It was great for me that it happened,” said the youngster.

“I’m working as hard as I can to get back and then when I’m back out there I want to kick on and show what I can do to repay the faith which has been shown in me.

“Of course it’s been tough and the first month or so was the toughest.

“But once you’re back in and around everyone else at the training ground it keeps you going.

“I’m over the worst of it now and I’ll get there.”