SOUTHEND United winger Sam Barratt is on the verge of returning to full training after 16 months on the sidelines.

Barratt suffered a cruciate ligament injury in August 2018 after having made just one first team appearance for the Shrimpers.

And the 24-year-old cannot wait to be back in action.

“I should be back in full training next week and I’m so excited about that,” said Barratt.

“It’s been a long time coming and it’s been tough both mentally and physically.

“It will be amazing to be training again and then hopefully play for the under-23s soon as well.

“I’m not putting a timescale on a first team return just yet but I’ll want to play well for the under-23s and then it’s up to the manager really.”

Barratt, who is a former England C international, joined Blues from Maidenhead United in May 2018 and caught the eye during pre-season, scoring a memorable volley against Great Wakering Rovers.

The winger made his Football League debut as a second half substitute against Doncaster Rovers on the opening day of the season before being suffering an injury blow when lining up for Blues’ under 23s against Stevenage.

Barratt has since been working his way back to full fitness and has had to try not to do too much too soon.

“We’ve had to be sensible and you have to try and build things up steadily,” said Barratt.

“Obviously you want to be back as soon as possible, you want to be back out there with the lads training and in matches too so it’s been tough not being able to do that.

“But I’ve been outside running now, we’ve been working with the footballs and I’ve been involved with some controlled contact work too.

“The next step is to join in fully now and I can’t wait for that to happen.”