Leyton Orient squad injuries were genuine insists midfielder Michael Collins
PUBLISHED: 14:29 24 May 2017 | UPDATED: 14:29 24 May 2017
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The 31-year-old discusses final month of 2016/17 campaign where Orient were without a lot of senior players due to injury
Michael Collins doesn’t believe any of his Leyton Orient team-mates ‘chucked it in’ during the final month of the League Two season and insists any players missing out through injury were genuine.
The O’s were without a number of senior members of the squad for the final few weeks of the campaign and it led to even more youngsters getting a chance in the first-team.
Several experienced players were absent due to injury against Cambridge United, Luton Town, Hartlepool United, Crewe Alexandra, Colchester United and Blackpool and Orient eventually suffered relegation.
“I just love playing football and as much as the circumstances were difficult, if I am fit and I feel I can get through a game then I will always put myself forward to play regardless of whether I am carrying a niggle or something slightly more serious,” said Collins.
“That is the way I am and my character and I wouldn’t like to not play for any other reason other than for being actually injured.
“I know a lot was made of that (the squad injuries), but I do think it was coincidental because from what I saw I certainly didn’t see any of my team-mates chucking it in.
“We were running low on numbers anyway if you exclude the younger lads who credit to them, came in and held there own, but they shouldn’t have had that demand put on them, especially in a relegation battle.
“But we lost a lot of players during January and then through injury, so it came too much of an ask, but I will certainly stand up for my team-mates in that dressing room and say I don’t think any of the lads chucked it in.
“I know that (allegation) was chucked around a bit, but I never saw that and I would never question any one of them. If they said they were injured then that is reason enough not to play.”
To back up Collins’ sentiments, club staff said the exact same at the time when lots of players were missing through injury.
For the midfielder, he helped endear himself to the Orient faithful by playing through the pain twice during April.
Collins battled on with a back injury against Cambridge and despite taking a knock to the eye early on at Crewe, continued until half-time.
It was an extremely difficult season for everyone at O’s and not helped by various issues off the pitch either.
Orient had five managers during the campaign, staved off a winding-up petition in March and paid their staff and players late on two occasions.
But Collins insists the aforementioned problems can’t be used as an excuse for relegation, he added: “Obviously it was a season where the club seemed to court quite a bit of press and a lot of it was not for positive reasons, but the release for us as players is playing matches.
“When we were out there on a Saturday or whenever, we tried to put all those things to the back of our mind, so as difficult as it was – we can’t lay all the blame there.
“Us as players were the ones who went out there and for whatever reason, it was one of them seasons where it didn’t work for us.
“There were a lot of games where I thought we were very competitive and in quite a few I thought we were the better side, but it was a season where even when we played well we wouldn’t get the rub of the green and everything seemed to go against us.
“In the end it was too much of a mountain to climb, but now is the time for the club to rebuild and put the foundations in place and find stability. The club basically needs to try and get back to where it belongs, which in my opinion is well above League Two.”