Orient’s Paul McCallum fulfilled a personal aim when coming up for the final game of the season at Yeovil Town, and now the striker is keen to restart his O’s career after his ‘most frustrating’ season in football.
The 22-year-old joined the O’s in the summer following his release from West Ham United, and enjoyed a strong pre-season before netting three goals in nine games as Orient got off to a strong start in League Two.
However, that all changed when the striker picked up a cruciate knee ligament injury not long after coming off the substitutes’ bench in the 1-1 draw at Northampton Town on September 26.
A long and hard seven months of rehabilitation followed, with the striker working with both physio Peter Webb and fitness coach Craig Smith on a daily basis.
The reward for that effort was an appearance off the bench at Huish Park on May 7, and he almost marked the occasion with a goal – only for the referee to rule the goal out for a foul in the build-up.
For the striker it was a special occasion to hear his name announced over the tannoy, along with the warm reception he received from the travelling Orient fans.
“It was a brilliant reception from the fans as well,” McCallum told leytonorient.com.
“They were singing a few songs which I hadn’t heard in a while which was nice and it was a shame that the referee blew the whistle before I put that chance in the back of the net.
“It was a personal positive for me at Yeovil because of the frustrating season I have had so it was one plus and a good way to end the season on a personal level.
“A few months ago Peter and I decided I would be back fit for the play-offs but unfortunately we didn’t reach that, however it was nice to get the last game. We didn’t have to do it but it was great to be able to achieve that goal.”
Injury is part and parcel of football, but that still couldn’t stop the striker from the frustration of missing the bulk of the season, and not being able to help his team-mates as the O’s missed out on a Play-Off place.
“It has been my most frustrating season to date,” he added. “It had started off very well and this freak accident happened which was very frustrating. But now I am over that and looking to crack on again next season.
There will be very little rest for the striker over the summer as he continues to build up the strength in the knee, but he is keen to come back even stronger next season, while he also reserved special praise for Smith and Webb.
“They have both been instrumental in getting me through this so I can’t thank them enough really. They were there every step of the way,” said McCallum.
“I will still be in the gym every day during the summer and I will be going back a few weeks before the other boys just to make sure I am ready and in the best physical condition I can be to start pre-season.
“We saw the surgeon at six months and he was happy with everything and that the team of Craig and Pete had done a good job with me.
“I just want to start again and hopefully have a similar start to what I had last season and continue that throughout the season.”