SOUTHEND United striker Callum Powell hopes to end the National League season with a yellow card to his name at Roots Hall tomorrow.

The fit-again forward returned to action against AFC Fylde on Saturday having previously been sidelined with a knee injury since September.

But Powell now wants to step up his comeback by netting for the Shrimpers against Rochdale this weekend.

And he already has a special celebration planned.

“I can’t wait to take my shirt off and swing it around to show off seven months of upper body gym work,” laughed Powell.

“The yellow card I’d get doesn’t matter now and just fine me!

“If I could score on Saturday in front of the home fans it would be a great feeling and I’ve got family coming to watch as well.

“It’s definitely something I’m targeting and hopefully if I get a chance I can put it away and contribute to another win.”

Powell scored twice in 11 games before suffering his injury against Aldershot Town.

And he initially found the seriousness of his setback tough to take.

“I was devastated when I first heard the news and I cried if I’m honest,” said Powell.

“But I’ve worked really hard and it’s gone better than expected.

“They estimated nine to 12 months and I did it in seven which is great.”

Powell worked tirelessly throughout his rehabilitation and feels that is what has got him back ahead of schedule.

“I’m a bit deluded and I don’t listen to what people say to me,” smiled Powell.

“There’s no chance when they were telling me to rest that I’m not going to stop working hard.

“I was doing three or four sessions every day.

“I was still going in the gym doing my core stability work and stretching and upper body to make sure I’m keeping some level of fitness.

“You start to see the light at the end of the tunnel with every step you take.

“The closer you get the lads are buzzing too because I’m so loud and annoying to be around!”

Powell had been back training alongside his team-mates before making his return off the bench at Fylde last time out.

And the 28-year-old was overjoyed by his return.

“It was brilliant and it was always a feeling I hoped would come this season,” said Powell.

“It’s what I worked so hard for and when the gaffer and Daz (Currie) said to go and get warm I was like yes, this is what I’ve been looking forward to.

“Words can’t describe it really and getting back on the pitch is such an important step.

“It’s onwards and upwards for me now.”

Powell looks set to again be on the bench for tomorrow’s match with Rochdale.

And he remains in awe of how well the Shrimpers have performed this season.

“The achievements from everyone here have been incredible,” said Powell.

“To go 15 games undefeated, have a 10 point deduction and still be so close to the play-offs is a massive achievement.

“It’s a huge credit to everyone.”

But the season is not over yet and Powell cannot wait for Saturday’s showdown.

“Hopefully I can play some part and make an impact back in front of the home fans,” said Powell.

“I’m so excited, the fans are incredible and it’s my first home game in seven and half months.

“I’m sure the place will be rocking and we’re all looking forward to it.

“We’ll do all we can to make sure we end the season 16 unbeaten.”

The Shrimpers do still have a slight chance of reaching the play-offs.

But, whatever happens, the forward will not be taking much of a break this summer.

“The injury feels like it was a decade ago now and I feel like I’m in a good place fitness wise,” said Powell.

“I can do my off-season work now.

“I’ve missed most of the season so I don’t need so much of a rest and I’ll make sure I come back next season better than I’ve ever been before.”

Powell is out of contract with Blues this June and will soon be having talks with the club about his future.

But he expects the Shrimpers to do well again next season.

“We’ll have a conversation but the ambition, the magnitude of the club and the players we’ve got we want to be challenging,” said Powell.

“You don’t want to put too much pressure on yourself but what we’ve done this season speaks for itself.

“If we can add to the group and keep improving I think we’ll be in and amongst it.”