LIAM Kelly is making huge strides in his mini pre-season fitness programme, according to Oxford United boss Karl Robinson.

The midfielder has been taken out of first team selection temporarily so the fitness department get him up to speed.

Robinson felt Kelly had become “lost” in a difficult spell after signing for Feyenoord last summer, where he featured just twice in the first half of the season.

The 24-year-old joined United on loan in January, but felt he needed some special attention.

Also read: Oxford United confirm rejecting Blackpool approach for Karl Robinson

Robinson has been thrilled with the response to the work with fitness coach Chris Short.

He said: “If you walked past Liam Kelly now you wouldn’t recognise him.

“What Chris Short and the medical team have done with him in the past seven days is remarkable.

“He did a double last Thursday and requested to travel with us (to Ipswich) so he could do a double on Friday, then another double on Saturday morning.

“I walked past the gym on Saturday morning at about 7.45am to get a coffee and Liam Kelly was in there on his own, before the two sessions.

“I had a little smile on my face and couldn’t wait to tell the staff.

“He is an absolute credit to himself, he was lost coming here after living in a country where he didn’t know anybody.”

He added: “I said to him I’d love you here next season, so let’s use this time to get the Liam Kelly everyone knows.”

Robinson sympathised with the circumstances which saw Kelly endure a tough start to the season after moving to the Netherlands.

He said: "It’s easy because you can’t go out and socialise because you’re trying to keep yourself professional.

"You find yourself in the house on your own day-in, day-out, you do find yourself in a slump if you’re not playing and don’t have anything to look forward to.

"From my point of view he’s now in a better place.

"I’m so proud of my medical team and the sports science staff, but equally he’s got to want to do it and he’s made a big difference.

"People might look at that and say ‘he should be’, but many don’t."