Jobi McAnuff hailed a “special moment” after he made his first Leyton Orient appearance of the season in the win over Cambridge United.

The club captain has struggled with a groin issue since the back end of last season and was yet to make an appearance in 2019/20 before today, instead joining Ross Embleton’s coaching staff in a player-coach role.

However, his 67th-minute introduction in place of James Dayton was greeted by huge ovation from the O’s faithful at the Breyer Group Stadium.

McAnuff said of his return: “It was a really special moment. It’s been a long journey with times where there were doubts whether I’d get back on the pitch, so from that point of view there’s been a lot of hard work and support, not just from my family but from everyone at the football club.

“They’ve been very patient and I’m just delighted to get back out there and it was a fantastic reception from everybody here.”

The midfielder’s introduction to the game was not purely done out of sentiment, though. He had a clear effect on the side’s performance as they seemed to regain some composure having conceded just four minutes before he came on.

McAnuff also sent in some decent set-piece deliveries and could have had a goal himself when he thundered a volley towards goal from Ruel Sotiriou’s cross, only to see it well kept out by Callum Burton.

He said: “I caught it really nicely to be fair, it’s one of those where probably it either goes in Row Z or you catch it how to want to catch it. To be fair to the keeper it’s fairly straightforward for him as it’s right at him but it was a good save.

“I think that would be a bit greedy – left foot volley in the top corner on my debut back in. I’m just really happy to be back on the pitch and get through the minute and hopefully start building them up now.”

While the obvious target between now and the end of the season will be to play as many minutes as possible, McAnuff knows it’s something he will have to take slowly and he wants to continue to support those that have played admirably in his absence.

He said: “We’ve got a really strong squad and we’ve got lads coming back that are going to make us even stronger. For me, that’s how it has to be. On a personal level, we need to push each other. If I’m not starting, I’m going to be pushing the lads that are starting because I want to play and it’ll be exactly the same when I’m starting, with the lads pushing me.

“It’s the only way you get your standards high and keep them high, when you’ve got that competition throughout the squad and at the end of the day, we’ve spoken amongst ourselves, everyone is playing for their futures.

“We’re not just going to coast until the end of the season. Everyone here has got to prove that they’ve got a part to play. We want to have a strong finish to the season and try and finish as high up the table as we can.”