SOUTHEND United left-back Nathan Ralph is stepping up his return from a dislocated shoulder.

The 27-year-old has been sidelined since early December after suffering the injury at Burton Albion.

But Ralph is continuing to work hard on his comeback despite the current lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"Over the last few weeks I’ve been upping the strength in my shoulder and just trying to get it back to how it was before and hopefully even better," said Ralph.

“The aim is to come back stronger than before the injury.

"Obviously with the coronavirus and the gyms being shutdown it’s not been ideal but I managed to nick some weights from my dad’s garage and that’s allowed me to do some exercises from home.

"In terms of the leg exercises, you can get to a certain weight but you can’t really do what you would be doing in a gym."

However, despite the restrictions, Ralph is seeing improvements in his physical condition.

"I’m feeling good," said Ralph.

"I can start running now so I’ve been doing that and getting my fitness up.

"The shoulder is closer to being back to what it should be but obviously times like these there are a lot more important things going on in the world.”

Ralph is sticking to government guidelines but has found it tough going at times.

“Living in a flat is not ideal," said Ralph.

"I haven’t got a garden to do stuff in but I make do in my living room.

"With the running I go to my local park and do that side of things there and just make it work really.

"Everyone’s in the same boat so you have to get on with it.

"There’s people in a lot worse situation than we are."

However, Ralph will need further assessments before he considers making a comeback.

"In terms of joining in with the team I’ll have to see the physio first and then go from there," said Ralph.

"I’ve not been able to see the physio, Ben Clarkson, so when I go back he’ll go over it and see how it’s looking."

Ralph joined Blues in the summer, after leaving Dundee, and made 20 appearances before being forced onto the sidelines.