ROB Hall admits getting back up to speed after injury has been far more difficult than his previous uphill battles.

And the Oxford United winger, who missed eight months last season after knee surgery, believes the mental hurdles have been harder to overcome than the physical ones.

Hall is open about still having work to do on both counts, but felt there were encouraging signs against Portsmouth on Tuesday night.

“I think everyone forgets but that was my fifth start since being back,” he said.

“It’s not going to come back to me straight away.

“I think it’s obvious it was a long time being out injured.

“I think my problem was more mental than anything, which was hard to overcome and still possibly is, but I’m doing stuff to make it better.

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“To get 90 minutes is good, because I hadn’t seen the pitch in a while.”

Hall’s career has been hampered by knee injuries, with the most recent issue coming close to forcing a premature retirement.

Having come back from the brink, the former West Ham trainee is determined to soak up every moment.

But this time it has been a trickier process to find form.

He said: “Yeah, because I’m not as young now. I’m nearly 26.

“People, even those I know, might think I’m not moving as quickly or doing things as well as was before.

“But I look back to when I was playing regularly and I was in the best form of my career.

“To come back and try to replicate that is going to be hard.

“I’ve just got to keep working hard, as I have been doing, with the physios.

“I can’t take any minute for granted, because as I’ve seen it can all be taken away from you.

“I was close before to not touch the pitch again.”

Hall has lacked his familiar spark on the pitch this season as he has worked his way towards full fitness.

But the midweek display represented a step forward, which the winger hopes is the start of an upward curve.

He said: “I think I’m getting to that stage now where I’m not worrying about this or that.

“I’m a lot stronger in my head to come out on the pitch and know what I can do.

“I can feel glimpses of what I used to do.

“Hopefully I can keep building on that and not get too ahead of myself, because it is flipping hard, I’m not going to lie.

“To get these games in and another 90 minutes I’m very grateful, but I’m hungrier to keep pushing on and try to knock on the door.”