Is Orient teen Sotiriou ready to step into Koroma's shoes?
PUBLISHED: 17:00 06 February 2019
Simon O'Connor Photography
The talented O’s youngster has caught the eye on a number of occasions this season
Ruel Sotiriou is only 18 and yet he continues to impress whenever called upon for Leyton Orient and has made big strides this season.
After signing his first professional contract with the O’s in May, the forward has had to be patient, but could find himself handed an opportunity some time soon.
Sotiriou made his debut for the club under Steve Davis in the FA Cup away to local rivals Dagenham & Redbridge in the fourth qualifying round on October 14 2017.
It only lasted a handful of minutes, but he earned longer stints in the National League home defeats to Macclesfield and Gateshead in the same month.
More opportunities arrived in November of that year, at Gillingham (FA Cup) and Torquay United (league), before Justin Edinburgh played the teenager at Gateshead in the FA Trophy.
This season, Sotiriou has only made two appearances for O’s, but he has developed a lot over the last 12 months.
Loan spells away from E10 have helped and in particular at Bishop’s Stortford earlier this season.
In the 2018/19 London Senior Cup, Sotiriou has been strong performer for Orient and he netted in clashes at Haringey Borough and Welling United.
The former youth-teamers’ eye for a goal makes him a dangerous forward at any level of football and he is beginning to show that for O’s now too.
Saturday’s clash with Blyth Spartans, of the National League North, was a prime example of this.
Introduced for the final 16 minutes, Sotiriou was sharp and his movement caused the visitors plenty of problems.
His directness was also notable and he won Orient the free kick - which Dale Gorman swung in to set up Jamie Turley - for the winner after an incisive run.
First-team development coach Danny Webb, who has worked with Sotiriou for several seasons, was encouraged.
He said: “I have known Ruel for years and he is one of them who will always give 100 per cent.
“People say you should get that from every player and they are right, but with him you know you will get that and a little bit more.
“What is nice is in that 20 minutes there was a bit more of a polished performance from him. He is not so rough and rugged and like a bulldozer and he held the ball up well.
“He did well to win the free kick which led to the goal and he is one of them who does need games, so whether he stays here and challenges or goes out for a month on loan we’ll have to wait and see.”
If star man Josh Koroma was fit, Sotiriou probably would be out learning his trade at either Bostik Premier or National League South level.
However, the injury to Orient’s number 19 opens up an opportunity, especially with winger James Dayton also absent.
This weekend O’s take on Hartlepool United away from home in the league and boss Justin Edinburgh needs to partner someone up front with Macauley Bonne.
Orient have plenty of options – Matt Harrold can do a job, Alabi has played there before and one of James Brophy or Jordan Maguire-Drew could play as a number 10.
Sotiriou may not have been a genuine option two months ago, but such is his desire to learn, he continues to bang on Edinburgh’s door by letting his football do the talking.
He may still be viewed as a bit too raw or lacking in experience, yet his energy and clinical touch in front of goal will definitely have O’s management team discussing his credentials at some point this week with the trip to Hartlepool in mind.
Webb added: “Josh’s injury opens the door for Ruel and also James and Matty and Brophy can play up there if needed, so all those players who haven’t necessarily got as many games as they would have liked for whatever reason.
“Ruel is a good, grounded lad and he has another two-year contract, so there’s no rush for him from a development point of view, but I’m sure he wants to get in and around it as soon as possible.
“In the mean time we have a good choice of forwards who are giving the manager food for thought.”