LITTLE Oakley's Adam Bloss is closing in on a return to fitness - and can be as good as any defender in the Thurlow Nunn League.

That's the view of Acorns boss Matt Carmichael, who knows the centre-half well from their time together at Brantham Athletic.

Bloss has been a long-term injury victim, having been sidelined with a troublesome hip problem.

The problem was originally misdiagnosed which set him further back on the road to recovery.

Now, however, he is closing in on a comeback and Carmichael is looking forward to seeing him back in an Oakley shirt.

"Adam's in the process of getting fit and when that happens, he'll be as good as anyone in the league," he said.

"He could still play at the level above.

"He's only in his early-30s but hasn't played a lot of football in the last 18 months, having suffered an injury towards the end of my time at Brantham.

"It got diagnosed as various things and he couldn't shake it off.

"It turned out it wasn't what we were told originally but over the last few months he's started to rehabilitate.

"He's come through it and he's able to train again, which is really positive news."

Carmichael says Bloss is itching to get back in action and has a "second lease of life".

"Adam's got a strong connection with the club, having been here before, and he's a well-liked and respected person," he said.

"He's a good lad to have around and we're looking forward to having him available again.

"I know he's got a second lease of life, too, ever since he was given the correct diagnosis.

"Before that, it was very frustrating for him."

Oakley had no game last weekend and consequently dropped to second in the table, having been leapfrogged by previous leaders Lopes Tavares.

They host Hackney Wick this weekend before a League Cup date against Lopes Tavares, ironically, on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Carmichael says he is always looking to bolster his squad, if it helps ramp up competition for places.

"We're still looking to improve the squad and don't want to stand still," said the Oakley boss, who watched his side defeat Wivenhoe Town 5-4 on penalties after a 1-1 draw in the First Division Knockout Cup on Tuesday.

"It's about keeping the squad as competitive as it can be and if that means bringing in another player, if he's better than we've already got, we'll do it.

"The players in the squad understand that and that's the challenge we've set them - to prove they're good enough to keep their places.

"We'd be stupid to think we could get through the season with a squad of 15 or 16.

"We never want to get complacent or stale and that's why we're always looking to freshen things up."

Midfielder Josh Merritt is closing in on a return, having broken his hand at Lopes Tavares in early October.