JAMIE Hanson cannot wait to feel the pre-match buzz again tonight – but knows standards at Oxford United have risen during his time out injured.

The midfielder is due to play some part in the Leasing.com Trophy second round tie at Exeter City.

It will be his first action since tearing a hamstring against Fleetwood Town in September.

That was also the last time United lost, with Hanson reduced to the role of a frustrated spectator during the 16-game unbeaten run.

Also read: Oxford United youngsters expected to be involved this evening

And the 24-year-old knows the side is even tougher to break into now than it was in the opening weeks of the season.

“They’ve set the bar so high now, so when you come back from injury you have to hit those levels,” he said.

“I’ve missed the buzz. Leading up to a game it starts and then in the changing room just before kick-off you get the butterflies.

“That’s the worst bit when you’re injured, you start to hate Saturdays and Tuesdays, because you want to be on the pitch with them.

“The first two weeks were tough because you’re just lying on the physio’s bed and you can’t do a lot. You just feel helpless.

“But then you start to turn a corner and as soon as you’re outside you know you’re nearly there and the light’s at the end of the tunnel.

“It has been tough at times, especially the big games like West Ham, but I’ve been over the moon for the boys.”

Hanson knew instantly he was set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines after pulling up at Highbury.

But the return has come slightly earlier than planned, with the Trophy game offering a useful platform – especially with fellow defensive midfielder Alex Gorrin suspended for Saturday’s Sky Bet League One game with Shrewsbury Town.

Hanson said: “This Exeter game is perfect for me coming back.

“Even if it’s just ten or 20 minutes, just getting back in the game environment.

“Hopefully if I come through that fine I’ll be available for Saturday.”

He added: “The aim was to get back for the start of Christmas.

“I know I’ll have a couple of games under my belt before that, so hopefully I’ll be firing on all cylinders.”