Jobi’s back where he always wanted to be
- Credit: Archant
Orient midfielder reveals frustration at time on the sidelines and how he’ll play anywhere for Ian Hendon
It has been a long time coming, but Jobi McAnuff finally made another competitive start for Leyton Orient on Saturday, for the first time since April 18.
The Jamaican midfielder returned to the first-team fold against York City last month, coming on in the 82nd minute during the 3-2 win.
But prior to Saturday’s FA Cup tie with Scunthorpe United, the 34-year-old hadn’t started a competitive match for the east Londoners since their 6-1 defeat to MK Dons last season.
McAnuff played in a friendly against Bishop’s Stortford in August and scored and it was believed that he was available to boss Ian Hendon for the upcoming campaign, but it wasn’t the case.
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President Francesco Becchetti allegedly insisted McAnuff wasn’t to be picked – and he had a trial at Blackburn – but his return was completed last weekend as he starred for the O’s during their goalless draw at Brisbane Road.
He looked dangerous throughout, came close to scoring late on and seems like he could become a vitally important player for Orient after all this season.
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Even Hendon admitted after the match that the Jamaican’s first start of the campaign was “long overdue” and McAnuff was also understandably delighted to be back.
“I love playing football. I always have and that is probably why I have played the games that I have because I want to be out there on a Saturday,” he said.
“Careers are short and I am obviously getting on a bit age wise, but I feel good. My legs are good, fitness-wise I’ve been fortunate, so I just want to play football, that is all I want to do.
“The most frustrating thing for me has been being at home on a Saturday or in the stands watching. On the pitch is where I want to be on a Saturday afternoon so I am just buzzing to get out there.”
It looked like it as well as McAnuff closed players down, attempted last-ditch tackles and tried on numerous occasions to unlock the Iron’s solid back four.
With the casualty list increasing for Orient, the number of playing chances available to McAnuff appear to have improved.
Sammy Moore is set to be out until the end of the year with a burst capsule in the back of his knee, while Dean Cox and Paul McCallum are out long term.
Alex Cisak and Jay Simpson missed the draw with Scunthorpe due to ankle injuries so it seems the former Reading man could keep his place ahead of the trip to Mansfield Town on Saturday.
Orient will face the Iron again on Tuesday at Glanford Park to decide who travels to Premier League champions Chelsea in the third round of the competition.
Hendon has lots of games to prepare for and quite a few injuries now as well, but McAnuff is ready to play for Orient in any position they need as he looks to keep impressing.
He added: “Wherever the gaffer wants me to play, I’ll play. I’ll go out on the left and do a job. We have good competition, particularly in the midfield areas.
“Blair Turgott came in and played really well against Scunthorpe so I’m pleased for him. He has been biding his time patiently and that is what we have got to do. Whoever plays needs to give a good performance and that is all you can do really.”
McAnuff did that on Saturday and might turn out to be a crucial player for Orient this season.