OXFORD United are hopeful Ben Woodburn will make his long-awaited return next week.

The 20-year-old was the U's highest-profile summer signing when he joined on loan from Liverpool.

But his progress was halted by a broken foot in the draw at Accrington Stanley on October 5.

Just as he was poised to return just before Christmas, the forward suffered the same injury in his other foot.

Also read: Injury to force Oxford United into a change against AFC Wimbledon

Now, more than 20 weeks on from the initial injury, Woodburn is closing in on a comeback.

"Woody is another week away so I’m hoping to have him back for the Southend game (on February 29)," United boss Karl Robinson said.

"He started running last Thursday, so he’ll have done about 14 days of pre-season effectively. Then he needs games. "

Robinson cautioned against expecting too much too soon given the amount of time he has been out.

But United will be aiming to get Woodburn up to speed as quickly as possible to assist their flagging promotion hopes in Sky Bet League One.

He said: "Don’t think he’ll be the Ben Woodburn we saw against Lincoln, it won’t be the case (to begin with).

"Unfortunately we’re not blessed with a number of bodies in certain positions any more, so it’s more of a necessity that we get him back."