JAMIE Mackie believes he is ready to hit top gear with Oxford United after feeling the benefits of a break from first team action.

The 33-year-old scored on his return to the side on Tuesday night as the U’s beat Forest Green Rovers 3-0 to reach the second round of the Emirates FA Cup.

Mackie had not played for ten days, missing last Saturday’s victory over Gillingham, which lifted the side out of the Sky Bet League One relegation zone for the first time, through suspension.

But it allowed him an opportunity to give his body a rest – a move the former QPR man believes has put him in even better shape ahead of a busy couple of months.

“I’ll be honest with you, it probably helped me,” said Mackie.

“I didn’t want the rest, I was kind of in the groove of playing football and we were on a good little run.

“I had got into that rhythm of playing every week, which I was really enjoying and I had a good routine to be able to recover in the week.

“But it’s given me a couple of weeks to train harder than I’d be able to without recovery, so I really liked that, it made me feel sharp and I’m raring to go.

“I feel good and maybe that will help me going into the Christmas period when it’s very hectic.”

With no pre-season under his belt, it is little surprise it took Mackie a while to get up to speed.

A number of injuries meant there was no chance of taking the former Scotland international out of the firing line.

Mackie was as frustrated as anyone with his below-par start to the season, but his improved fitness coincided with an upturn in form, which now sees United nine games unbeaten in all competitions.

The striker is delighted to have battled through and feels he is in an even better place ahead of Saturday’s trip to Bradford City.

Mackie said: “I really appreciate the support I’ve been given and the manager and coaching staff knew that it might take me a little bit longer.

“It helped that I was honest with my own assessment early on.

“I knew the circumstances were that I wasn’t quite fit, but I still wanted to play and the situation at the time meant I needed to play.

“With my experience, I felt I could handle it and get through games, but I couldn’t quite do that and I wasn’t offering the club what I knew I could.

“I finally ground through that, got myself fitter and I’m really enjoying playing.

“As an older player, helping the team is why I’m here and I’m loving it.”