O’s expect Cheltenham will ‘come too soon’ for captain McAnuff
PUBLISHED: 17:00 26 July 2019
Simon O'Connor Photography
The player-coach looks unlikely to be fit to feature in the club’s League Two opener on Saturday week
Leyton Orient captain Jobi McAnuff may have to be content with a place on the touchline for the visit of Cheltenham Town on August 3 in the club's opening fixture of the League Two season, according to interim head coach Ross Embleton.
The 37-year-old was an influential figure for O's on and off the pitch during the previous campaign, but has not played a minute this summer.
McAnuff struggled with a groin injury during the second half of the last season and still seems to not be 100 per cent over the problem.
He has been heavily involved in pre-season given his new dual role as a player-coach, but for now he remains in the black coaching kit.
Embleton said: "I would expect Cheltenham would come too soon and even Jobi would consider that too soon.
"Looking at it logically, you wouldn't want to just sling him in. At this stage of the season we don't need to do that with him.
"We know his experience, we know how fit he is and how he looks after himself, but it's just a case of getting him pain free so we can get him back out on the pitch and ready to play."
McAnuff has trained at Orient's Chigwell training base, but prior to Tuesday not with the rest of the group and only on his own to build up his fitness.
Given this will be the former Jamaica international's 19th season in professional football, it should be no surprise he needs slightly longer than normal to recover from what proved to be a successful, but demanding 2018/19 campaign.
"Jobi has not trained with the group, but he has run during the last couple of days and improved to 60 to 65 per cent of what we would say is maximum before we include him in the group, so that's a positive," Embleton added, after the 3-3 draw away to Bishop's Stortford on Tuesday night.
"You want him to be in contention and pushing the group and able to be out there and that can't come around quickly enough, but we just have to be patient.
"We know we have to bide our time to get him back not only fit, but sustainably fit so he can carry on for the rest of the season."
In terms of other injuries, Embleton confirmed on Tuesday goalkeeper Dean Brill had started to train again and there seems a chance he will feature against the Norwich City XI on Saturday.
Craig Clay, meanwhile, got stamped on against AFC Rushden & Diamonds last week and felt pain ahead of the friendly at Stortford.
The swelling was expected to go down by now, but he may still start on the bench against the young Canaries as a precautionary measure.