LUKE Norris’ ankle injury is “nowhere near as bad as first feared” – and the Colchester United striker could be back in action by mid-December.

That’s the welcome update from U’s head coach John McGreal, having seen his front man carried off on a stretcher in the recent home victory against Swindon Town.

At first it was thought the 25-year-old could be facing months on the sidelines, not returning until 2019.

However, McGreal is hopeful the striker could feature next month and be fit in time for the hectic Christmas schedule.

“We’re hoping Luke will only be a few weeks, rather than months, which is excellent news,” said the Colchester boss, whose side have a home date with Exeter City on Saturday.

“We’re hoping he’ll be able to do something light in the next ten days or so.

“He’s had a scan and it’s nowhere near as bad as first feared.

“We’re hoping he’ll be back mid to late December and that would be a great boost to the team.”

McGreal will be without the injured Tom Eastman for Saturday’s game at the JobServe Community Stadium.

Goalkeeper and coach Rene Gilmartin is also on the comeback trail after suffering a hamstring injury in the 1-0 defeat at Accrington Stanley on November 10.

“Rene’s still a bit touch and go at the moment,” said McGreal.

“He’s still coaching the players while also doing his extra running and strength work and we’re hoping he’s not too far away either.”