GINO van Kessel risked a long injury lay-off to prove his fitness so he could help Oxford United stay up.

Southend United visit the Kassam Stadium today in a huge clash for the hosts, who are desperate for a victory to ease their relegation concerns in Sky Bet League One.

Van Kessel adds to their attacking options, but the forward says doctors laughed when he told them his hamstring injury would heal quicker than predicted.

However, less than a week after U’s boss Karl Robinson suggested Van Kessel would be ruled out for the season, the 25-year-old came on as a late substitute against Fleetwood Town on Tuesday.

Van Kessel scored two and made three goals in a 45-minute appearance for the development side a day later and is pushing for more game time.

But the Slavia Prague loanee believes he may still be receiving treatment if he had not thrown caution to the wind last week.

He said: “The officials told me I would be out for around four weeks, which was the end of April.

“But I told them ‘let’s see, maybe I’ll have a fast recovery’ and they started laughing.

“After two or three days I felt OK.

“When we started running I was with (sports therapist) Amy (Cranston) outside and I said ‘please don’t get angry with me’.

“She said ‘Gino, you’re not going to sprint’, but I started sprinting because I needed to test myself.

“I told her ‘you’ve already told me it was kind of the end of my season, so I have nothing to lose’.”

Van Kessel has not scored since New Year’s Day, but United need all the firepower they can muster after just six goals in their last nine games.

The Curacao international acknowledges his season-long spell has been a mixed bag, but there is a determination to finish on a high.

He said: “I have showed some things for the team, of course I’ve showed some things I shouldn’t do, but that’s football.

“We are in a bad situation at the moment, so we need everyone as fit as possible.”

He added: “Saturday’s an important game for us and we need to get the three points to make sure we’re not getting into any trouble.

“We won’t be relegated if we lose on Saturday, but I think we need three or four more points to make sure we stay in the league.

“The sooner the better.”