Craig Slater is hoping to hand Colchester United a welcome boost and return to training next week.

The key midfielder has not featured for the U’s since the second weekend of the League Two season because of a troublesome hip problem.

Colchester head physio Tony Flynn has been assessing Slater’s injury over recent weeks and the possibility of the Scotsman undergoing an operation had been discussed.

But Slater is set to have an injection on Friday, after which it is hoped he can return to training.

And that will be a big lift for the U’s and Slater, who missed the final two-and-a-half months of last season due to hernia and groin problems.

Slater told the Daily Gazette: “I’ve been out for a wee while now.

“There was talk of either an operation or an injection and it looks like it will be an injection, which hopefully I’ll have on Friday.

“It’ll probably be a case of then waiting a couple of days and then starting training and being around the team again, sooner rather than later.

“Everything seems to be OK for that to be the case and I just want to get back injury free.”

Slater suffered the injury in training, in the aftermath of Colchester’s opening-day defeat at Accrington Stanley.

The 23-year-old appeared as a second-half substitute in the U’s two following games, in their Carabao Cup tie against Aston Villa and then against Stevenage, in League Two.

But Slater has not featured since then and he admits he has found it hard to watch on from the sidelines.

“It happened just after the Accrington game,” said the former Kilmarnock player.

“It happened in training on the Monday afterwards – I felt something there and it got gradually worse.

“It was unfortunate, especially as I’d just come back from injury.

“It’s been so frustrating watching – that’s the hardest part because I want to be out there helping the team.

“You feel the frustration of the fans when you’ve been out and then you pick up another injury.”

Colchester under-23s have a busy fixture list coming up next month and Slater is hoping it might give him the opportunity to build up his match fitness again, with a view to a first-team return.

He added: “It’ll be good to get some game time and if there are some under-23 games coming up, I don’t see why not.

“But I haven’t been out for so long, so I don’t feel too bad fitness wise.

“I’ve been in the gym doing things like muscle and glute training, so hopefully once the injection kicks in I’ll be firing on all cylinders.”