SOUTHEND United striker Tom Hopper is scheduled to make his return from a year long spell on the sidelines today, Echosport understands.

Hopper suffered a cruciate ligament injury during the Shrimpers’ 3-0 win against Walsall in October 2018.

But the 25-year-old is expected to feature in a strictly behind closed doors practise match against National League side Maidstone United this afternoon.

Hopper joined Blues after being released by Scunthorpe United and made a stunning start to last season, scoring seven goals in 14 appearances.

The forward’s return will also provide a timely boost for the Shrimpers who have been beaten nine times in 11 League One outings so far this season.