Defender Jamie Sendles-White spoke of his delight at making his O’s debut in Saturday’s 4-1 victory at home to Guiseley.
The 23-year-old came on as an 81st minute substitute to register not only his first appearance of the season, but also bring his 12-month injury lay-off to an end having sustained a cruciate ligament injury whilst at Swindon Town last season.
“It was an amazing feeling to come on for my debut against Guiseley and there is no better feeling than being back out there,” Sendles-White told leytonorient.com.
“The past year has been tough, and being ruled out for such a long period of time is horrible for any player to experience.
“You only know how difficult it actually is once you have been through it yourself, and I found myself in some very dark places at stages of the rehabilitation given that at times I was worried if I would ever be able to play again.
“Fortunately, that has not been the case. It was a wonderful experience to be back out there on Saturday and the result topped it off.”
After joining the O’s initially on trial during pre-season, Sendles-White penned a one-year deal in E10 on August 1 and admits he is feeling close to full fitness after completing 90 minutes in the friendly at Stevenage yesterday.
“I felt ready a couple of weeks into pre-season but at that point it was about restoring my confidence in certain situations such as landing, as well as getting match fitness.
“I believe I have got that now and having completed my second 90 minutes against Stevenage yesterday I am feeling good,” he explained.
“I am feeling fitter every day and these reserve fixtures help me get closer to full match fitness, so I am now looking forward to pushing on from here.”
The Northern Ireland youth international had to remain patient for his debut however, with the O’s early fixtures ruling him out of featuring in the trips to Sutton United and Bromley following medical advice due to the artificial surface.
“It was frustrating seeing our first two away fixtures be at teams who play on 4G after such a long period out injured, but it was the advice of the surgeon to not be involved on that surface.
“Whilst it was disappointing to hear, I completely respected the decision as it was protecting my knee and only meant waiting an extra couple of weeks until I could be involved.”
With his debut now under his belt, Sendles-White praised fellow centre backs George Elokobi and Josh Coulson for their guidance on the training pitch and admitted he is enjoying learning from them both.
“Not only have George and Josh each played hundreds of games, they are great people and have been brilliant to work with.
“They are both vastly experienced and always giving me advice, and while it will be great battling with them for a starting spot it will also help me improve as a player.”
As Sendles-White left the field on Saturday, First Team Captain Charlie Lee was one of the first to congratulate the defender on his return to competitive football.
Following the news that Lee is set for an extended spell on the sidelines after suffering a similar knee injury in training, the defender finished by vowing to be there for the O’s skipper during his rehabilitation.
“It just goes to show the togetherness of the squad here in that, despite Charlie's injury, he still came up to me at the final whistle and gave me a hug to say well done. Not only does it show how close we are as a squad, it also shows the type of person Charlie is and I have told him that I will there every step of the way.
“I will be going to the hospital to see him once he has had the operation, and will make myself available to give any advice or support as he goes through a similar process to what I have endured throughout the past year.”