JOE Skarz and Ryan Taylor delivered a double boost to Oxford United by reporting for the start of pre-season having fully recovered from groin injuries.

The pair were among the first to undergo fitness testing at Oxford Brookes University’s human performance laboratory.

Skarz managed a persistent injury for most of last season, before missing several games in the run-in after rupturing his groin.

Taylor was ruled out for the second half of the season and needed an operation to correct the problem.

After busy summers spent working on rehabilitation programmes, both returned in good shape.

Skarz is well known for taking an ultra-professional approach and while many of his teammates dread pre-season, the left back sees it differently.

He said: “I like it, to be honest. It gives you the best chance of being fit through the whole season.

“I work hard in the summer when I’m by myself, but when you’re on your own in the gym you can only push yourself so far.

“Maybe last year when I came back I had done a bit too much, maybe that was why I had problems with my groin.

“This season I’ve done a lot but I’ve tried to do more specific work and do my rehab side.

“I’ll look to gradually build up over the pre-season, then look to peak for the first game.

“I just can’t wait to get going.”

Taylor will play a full part in training when the squad get together for the first time tomorrow.

The striker posted the best of the early performers in the VO2 max test, recording a result which was better than anyone achieved in pre-season 12 months ago.

He said: “I’ve been out for close to six months now so I feel like I’ve been off for so long.

“I’ve been itching to get back in and start getting fit again.

“I’m reasonably fit already, I’ve done my programme which Procs (Andrew Proctor, United’s head of sports science) gave me.

“I’m ready to go now – I feel 100 per cent fit and ready to get going for a full year.”

Taylor’s mark was beaten by Josh Ruffels, who set a new club record of 13mins 20secs.

The testing was part of a mutually beneficial link between the U’s and Brookes, which has significantly strengthened in recent seasons.

John Jakeman, senior lecturer in sports science and coaching at the university, said: “We look at it as an ongoing relationship and would certainly be keen to have more ties with the club.

“Hopefully that’s reciprocated.”