No time for sentiment as Notts County's Jamal Campbell-Ryce looks to shoot down Leyton Orient
NOTTS County's pocket rocket winger Jamal Campbell-Ryce is great at jinking his way past defenders – but today at Leyton Orient he is going to have to side-step sentiment as well.
The Londoner got his big break in League football with Orient just over a decade ago so it is a club that will always hold a special place in his heart.
But he wants to create some special memories with his new club this season by winning promotion into the Championship so he is determined to rip his old one apart and inspire the Magpies to a vital victory.
Campbell-Ryce has actually had two loan spells at Orient in his career.
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The first was way back in 2002 when he was sent to get some experience in the League by his first club Charlton Athletic, who were in the Premiership at the time.
He also spent four months there at the end of last season, after being frozen out at Bristol City.
He joined Notts last summer on a two-year deal and has since hit the ground running at Meadow Lane, scoring six goals in his first 19 league games for them and terrorising defences in League One.
He is not just a goalscorer either – but a goalmaker and he set up Enoch Showunmi to fire the Magpies to a 1-0 win against Oldham Athletic on home soil in midweek, which has put them back into the top-half of the table ahead of their trip to London. That win followed a battling 1-1 draw against title-favourites Sheffield United with ten men.
After a dip in form at the end of last year, Notts look to be getting back on track and with games in hand on every team above them they are expected to quickly rise back up into the top-six, where they have spent most of the season.
"The last two games were massive for us," said Campbell-Ryce.
"Getting a draw against Sheff U, a team everyone expects to go up, after playing with ten men for so long and conceding in the first minute was a great result and we could have beat Oldham by a lot more than one goal, but it was nice to get a win and a clean-sheet. We've just got to stay positive.
"I wouldn't go over the top and say everything is rosy again after a couple of good results, but we're in a better position now and we've a few games in hand as well. But they are only good when you win them and we know what this league is like, everybody can beat everybody."
Having netted his first league goal for the club against the Latics, Showunmi looks set to start back-to-back league games for the first time this season against Orient – and Campbell-Ryce thinks he can strike fear into defenders.
"Everybody was made up for him when he scored because we all want him to do well," he added. "He's had a tough first half of the season where he's not really been given a chance.
"But the gaffer played him and I thought he did well in his first start for a little while.
"Everybody loves a big target man to aim for. He's a player that can win headers, get hold of the ball and pose problems for defences.
"Even though he's so big, he's mobile. He can still run the channels and all the rest of it.
"He kind of scares defenders with his size and presence."
The game at Orient is the first of four away games in 11 days.
It is followed by trips to Portsmouth, Hartlepool United and Stevenage.
Notts will clock up over 1,100 miles – and Campbell-Ryce believes they can rack up a lot of points as well because they are unbeaten on the road in almost a year.
But he has also warned that just because Orient, Pompey, Hartlepool and Stevenage are all below 12th-placed Notts in the table that does not guarantee success.
"Our away form is good, but you're only as good as your next game," he said. "We could lose today and the record will go out of the window, so we have to be at the top of our game to make sure that doesn't happen."