NILE Ranger must continue to earn himself an opportunity at Southend United, according to Blues boss Mark Molesley.

Ranger has returned to Roots Hall on a month to month deal.

But Molesley wants Ranger to keep working hard in order to make the most of his second chance with the Shrimpers.

“All Nile has done is earn himself an opportunity to be in our squad,” said Molesley.

“He’s got the potential and the tools to be an exciting signing for us but a lot of this rests with him as much as it does us.

“He’s had to earn this opportunity and he will have to continue to earn the right to get in amongst it.

“But his desire to get back out on the football pitch is what has attracted us to give him a contract.

“For the first time in his life he probably needs football more than football needs him and he needs this to work just as much as we do. “Hopefully the timing is right for both of us this time.”

Blues have struggled for goals so far this season and hit the back of the net just 18 times in 28 games.

The Shrimpers have therefore been keen to add to their attacking options and Molesley feels Ranger is among the very best the club could have signed as a free agent.

“You try and find a striker available who can do what Nile can do when he’s fit, you can’t,” said Molesley.

“He’s in a league of his own in terms of talent and potential.

“The only thing is that he hasn’t played for a long time and I’m sure he does divide opinion with his history in the game.”

Ranger, who has not played since leaving Blues in January 2018, has attracted controversy throughout his career and spent time in prison for online fraud during his first spell at Roots Hall.

But Molesley has had no issues with the former Newcastle United forward.

“I’m a firm believer in treating everyone as I find them and everyone deserves a second chance,” said Molesley.

“Some people will argue this is maybe more than a second chance but Nile has had to show his willingness for this.

“He’s had to work for two months behind the scenes before he could even train with the group.

“He earned that chance and he’s earned the chance to get an opportunity to play for us now too.

“There are still some big hurdles in front of him but if he continues to show the attitude and mentality that he has to get this far then we could have a very exciting prospect on our hands.

“But we’re not getting carried away with ourselves.”