Charlie Lee was rested against Hartlepool United as a precaution to ensure he continues to perform at a high level for Leyton Orient, head coach Justin Edinburgh confirmed.

The 31-year-old has been a regular in the O’s side this season, scoring once in 13 appearances for the East London side so far.

He came on as a substitute during Orient’s first two games of the campaign, hitting the post against Salford City, but was handed his first start against Barrow and hasn’t looked back since, partnering Craig Clay in midfield.

It was a surprise, therefore, to see the former Stevenage man drop out of the match-day squad all together against Hartlepool, with James Brophy replacing the O’s vice-captain in the starting line-up.

That decision meant skipper Jobi McAnuff moved into centre midfield to partner Clay during the game at the Breyer Group Stadium.

Many thought that Lee’s exclusion was injury related but Edinburgh confirmed that this wasn’t the case, with the O’s head coach keen to protect the midfielder given his injury last season, which saw him miss a large part of the campaign after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament in training last August.

Asked about Lee, Edinburgh said: “He was rested. It’s a decision that I felt needed to be made. It was a tough call and one Charlie didn’t like and I respect him for that.

“But I feel to recover from the injury he’s had and to play as many games at the level he has, I just felt we needed to give him a rest today to make sure that for the long-term, we keep him in form for the rest of the season.”