ROB Hall is planning to take it one step at a time when Oxford United's squad regroup for the start of pre-season this weekend.

Aside from a short holiday, the winger has been hard at work through the summer in a bid to be up to speed for what he calls the most crucial time in his career.

Having missed eight months last season following an operation to repair damage in his right knee, Hall returned for cameo appearances off the bench in United's last two games of the season.

Having played just six times since November 2017, the 25-year-old is cautious about looking too far ahead.

And he will be happy just to be back in the mix when the pre-season testing is held on Saturday, before the first sessions next week.

He said: "I’m looking to come in on June 22 with the team and be straight in with them.

"Hopefully I don’t have to be pulled out of a session, unless it’s a sensible decision like we’re training on an astro.

"That’s probably the last thing I need to be doing – training on a hard surface like that.

"I’m just looking to be in at the deep end with everyone else.

"I’m not looking forward to the running, but if that’s the start of my journey to get back to where I need to be, then I’m cool with it.

"From my point of view, I’m just looking to make sure I’m right for the first game of pre-season and then so on and so forth."

The former West Ham apprentice agreed a new contract last month and is focused on rediscovering a level of fitness which allows him to perform.

Karl Robinson deemed it worth the risk, knowing an on-form Hall can wreak havoc in Sky Bet League One.

The United head coach's faith is welcomed, although during the early stages of his rehabilitation it was difficult to digest.

Hall said: "It’s always nice to hear the gaffer make those sort of statements about you.

"But it was a weird situation because I didn’t want to hear anything like that when I was going through this, because I didn’t think it was going to help me.

"I didn’t want to listen to anything about football.

"I just wanted to concentrate on getting back to playing to then prove myself."

He added: "I’m not going to downplay it – it will be the biggest time of my career.

"But I have belief in myself that I’ll get there."