The last thing Luke Prosser probably needs are any reminders of his long spell on the sidelines.

But in the unlikely event that the Colchester United club captain should ever need a souvenir of his struggle back to fitness over a testing 12 months recovering from a knee injury, he can find one pretty close to home.

Prosser, who has undergone two operations on his right knee over the last 12 months, said: “It’s just been a case of when I’ve landed, the tiniest bit of bone has come away from my knee – I’ve got it in a jar at home.”

Thankfully, there is now light at the end of the tunnel for the experienced defender, whose last piece of first-team action for the U’s came in a FA Cup home defeat against Chesterfield on November 5, 2016.

This week marked a year since Prosser underwent his first knee operation and it has been a long journey back to fitness for the former Southend United man.

Having undergone a first knee operation last November, the defender had been hopeful of a return to action at the start of this season.

He had been nearing the end of his rehabilitation but was suffering pain when he was striking the ball and went under the knife again in the summer, to mend his damaged kneecap.

Since then, it has been a slow and testing road back but Prosser has this week been training with Colchester’s under-23 side – and is feeling optimistic of a New Year return.

The 29-year-old said: “I’m back on the grass and hopefully, there’s light at the end of the tunnel now.

“I’ve put my boots on for the first time in a long time and it feels good.

“It’s been hard but in my personal life, I’ve had a little girl so I’ve had a lot to take my mind off the injury.

“If someone said to me that I’d been off a year, I don’t know how I would have reacted but I’ve been able to go home and forget about things. Had that not been the case, then it would have been a lot different.

“It’s been hard – I’m not going to lie.

“But you set yourself goals and there will be stages where you can’t really do much and other times where you can do a lot more, where you get a bit excited.

“I’ve had a couple of setbacks which hasn’t been good but hopefully maybe by the end of next month, I’ll be getting some game time.

“In my head, I’ve got January as me being out with the boys kicking a ball on the grass.”

Prosser admits his knee may never be the same again, following the injury.

But the former Northampton Town loanee is ready to adapt to that, as he looks to get his career back up and running.

“I’m still playing through a lot of pain in my knee and it could be like that for a while,” said the U’s defender.

“But it’s got a lot better and you forget about that when you run around with the boys.

“It’s still a bit sore afterwards but I’ve spoken to George Elokobi and he said his knee didn’t feel right for six or seven months and it’s just one of those things.

“The bone in my knee isn’t 100 per cent and it’s going to be a bit sore and a bit weak.

“It’s such a specific movement - had it been my left leg, it would have been absolutely fine but because it’s my standing leg as I load to strike the ball that’s where I feel the pain which isn’t good obviously for a left footer.

“But it’s got a lot better and we’re just progressing as it goes.”