Former Charlton Athletic striker believes Leyton Orient can still reach League One play-offs

Kevin Lisbie's return to fitness is a major boost for Orient: Simon O'Connor

Kevin Lisbie's return to fitness is a major boost for Orient: Simon O'Connor

First published in Sport East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Photograph of the Author by

Returning hero Kevin Lisbie believes Orient can still make a late push for the League One play-offs.

The experienced striker came off the bench for his first appearance since January after a hamstring injury to score the O’s third goal in the win over Bournemouth on Saturday.

Lisbie thinks victories over sides such as Tranmere Rovers and the Cherries in recent weeks prove the club have what it takes to mount a challenge for the top-six.

The 34-year-old, who is expected to start on the bench at Notts County tonight, said: “You would be a fool to think we can’t make the play-offs. We won eight games in a row in the middle of the season. If we do something like that then I guarantee we will probably be in the play-offs. But it's down to us and we have to be consistent.

“I think the defence is playing really well right now which is going to help us and we have strikers that are scoring, so if we can get a good run going then there’s no reason why we can’t.

“Why can’t we reach the play-offs? We’re ten points off with 11 games to go so until it’s impossible, why not?

“We played Tranmere here recently and played Bournemouth now and we felt we were the better team in both games. We feel like we are one of the better teams in the league but we just have to be more consistent now.”

Lisbie’s second spell on the sidelines with an injury this season was a costly blow for the O’s as he was forced to sit out their Johnstone’s Paint Trophy area final defeat to Southend United.

The former Charlton Athletic forward admitted this was tough to take as he was unable to play his part in their unsuccessful bid to reach Wembley.

He said: “I was in my house and I think I kicked the ball 20 times in my living room watching that game. It was horrible and I think it was worse the day afterwards.

“I think we’ve got back on our feet now and put it behind us. It’s one of those things where someone has to go to the final so they must deserve it if they got there and we haven’t. We have to put it down as one of those things and try to get into the play-offs and get to Wembley that way.”

While he was out of action, Lisbie signed a new contract at Brisbane Road to remain with the club until the end of next season.

The Jamaica international admitted he turned down the chance to move elsewhere because of his affection for the O’s.

He said: “That kept me going. There was a bit of interest but I decided to stay here because I love the club and the supporters. They’ve been very good to me since I’ve been here.”

Lisbie could not have asked for a better comeback on Saturday after he took just nine minutes as a second-half substitute to score his tenth goal of the season.

“It was good to be back,” he said. “I enjoyed that very much, it's been a long while now and I’ve missed some important games. It’s just good to be back and more than anything get a good win so hopefully we can climb up the table.

“It’s always good to score but just being back out there was the biggest thing because it’s been seven weeks so being out there was massive for me.”

The veteran striker admitted his short time on the pitch took its toll and he does not expect go straight back into the side after such a significant time out of action.

Lisbie said: “For the first two minutes I felt lively but after that I was absolutely knackered! But when you’ve been out for seven weeks that’s almost like the summer break when the season ends.

“You have pre-season with all the friendly games and that’s exactly how I felt out there but I’ve done a lot of work. I know I should have been back earlier, but they wanted to be cautious because I’ve injured my hamstring before so it’s one of those ones I’ll have to manage.

“I’ll do whatever the manager tells me to do but whether starting would be good for me and the team is a different thing. I’ll tell you whether this break has done me good in about six weeks. It might help me but I would have liked to have been fit just for that Southend game more than anything.

“No player likes to be injured but it may help me and the team towards the end of the season and hopefully we can manage to get into those play-off positions.”

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