Leyton Orient missed Charlie Lee and his ‘big personality’ during tough run in the National League
- Credit: Archant
The former Stevenage midfielder has not been available for the O’s since August 19, but Ross Embleton praised his character this week
Ross Embleton has lauded the character of Leyton Orient first-team captain Charlie Lee with the midfielder virtually back to full fitness now.
The 31-year-old has not played for the O’s since August 19 after suffering anterior cruciate ligament damage to his knee.
Lee wasn’t expected to return this season and still may not actually feature for Justin Edinburgh, but is close to returning to full contract training.
Embleton admitted, after Saturday’s 4-1 victory over Barrow, Orient missed the ex-Gillingham midfielder during their 15-game run without a National League win back in 2017 between September 9 and December 9.
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“Charlie is a big personality in the group and his personality is something we’ve lacked and especially early on in the season,” said O’s assistant coach.
“It is well-documented the injury he had, but it is a sign of his character and the way he works that he is already back in and amongst the group before the season is out.
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“We all hoped he could return before it finished, but I don’t think anyone really predicted it would happen and there is now an appointment for him this week where he will hopefully get the nod to train and play in full contact.”
Lee was set to see get the green light to fully return on Tuesday, but even if he gets the all clear to play, there is still some debate about whether he will or not.
Orient do not appear prepared to take any risk with nothing except pride to play for in the final five games of the campaign.
Embleton explained: “If I said ‘yes I expect Charlie Lee to play again this season’ the physio may have me in a headlock and if I say ‘no I don’t expect Charlie to play’ then Charlie will have me in a headlock, so I can’t win.
“There is a possibility he will be capable of playing a game or in a game before the end of the campaign, however, what everyone has to weight up is whether it is vitally important for him to play a game before the end of the season.
“He will say it is because of how hard he has worked, but at the same time he has another three months to come back and be at the same level as the other boys and god forbid you put him on the pitch and something goes wrong.
“If the surgeon says the percentages are balanced out then that is something we would have to weigh up. There is a lot for and against.”
Orient, no doubt, have a tricky decision to make and although it might upset Lee, he is probably better off waiting for his return to take place in the summer.