JOHN Lundstram believes his short injury lay-off may turn out to be a blessing in disguise as the revitalised midfielder aims to help Oxford United finish the season strongly.
His former club Leyton Orient visit the Kassam Stadium today chasing a play-off place, while the U’s need a result to maintain their six-point cushion in the Sky Bet League Two automatic promotion spots.
Lundstram has been one of Michael Appleton’s key performers this season, but has missed the last three games with a badly bruised ankle, which has allowed Josh Ruffels to come into the side.
The 22-year-old had hardly missed a game before the knock, but the former Everton trainee is desperate to avoid missing any more games in the push for promotion.
He said: “There’s lads that might have a point to prove, myself included.
“I’ve been injured for a few weeks, so if I get back in the team I want to stay there and keep my place.
“I feel really sharp and raring to go.
“The break might have come at a good time, especially with us picking up the good results as well while I’ve been out.
“I’m over the moon for Josh – he’s a great lad off the pitch as well as a good player on it.
“He’s come in and no-one has noticed I’ve been missing.”
Lundstram played in a League One play-off final for Orient two seasons ago and returned for a second loan spell last season.
He opened his United goalscoring account against the O’s in October’s 2-2 draw at Brisbane Road, when the Londoners were flying high following a fast start.
Their campaign has not gone smoothly since then, leading to Ian Hendon being sacked and Kevin Nolan coming in as player-manager.
Lundstram, who will be in direct opposition to the former Bolton Wanderers battler if he returns to the U’s side this afternoon, is relishing the prospect of getting one over former teammates.
He said: “It will be good to see a couple of old faces, but it will be even nicer to beat them.
“With the squad they’ve got, I think they should be pushing for promotion.
“They have some good players, Jay Simpson is on 20-odd goals.
“I think come the end of the season they will be pushing for the promotion places.
“I think they will fancy their chances as much as we do. They won’t roll over and will give us a good game.”