EAST Thurrock United manager John Coventry has heaped praise on the departing Marvin Ekpiteta after he made his debut for Leyton Orient.

The 22-year-old made his bow in the National League, replacing former Thurrock and Grays Athletic winger Lamar Reynolds after 78 minutes of their defeat at Dover Athletic.

Orient had called back Ekpiteta, having signed him in January and loaned him back to Rocks originally until the end of the season.

But a number of injuries saw him recalled and Coventry said he was delighted for the central defender.

“Marvin is back at Leyton Orient and I am really pleased for him,” he said. “We had an agreement that he would remain until the end of the season but Orient decided they needed him before the end, and he is their player.

“They had a few injuries and I am so pleased for him. That feeling overrides any disappointment I feel at losing him and he is such a great lad and I really hope it works out for him.

“I would like to get through the season with what I have got and I am not planning to bring in any reinforcements at the moment.

“I have Simon Peddie, George Allen and Harry Honesty on dual registration at other clubs and I can call them back if I need them.

“And Ben Marlow could yet return this season as well.”

Rocks are scheduled to visit Hemel Hempstead Town in the National League South tonight.

Having drawn their last three league matches, Rocks will be desperate for three points as they continue their bid to secure their status in the division, while Hemel are targeting a play-off place.

“I am assuming the pitch will be OK so it is business as usual,” said Coventry. “Training on Saturday was good as we hadn’t been together for a few days. The pitch was covered in snow but it gets the cobwebs off.

“Hemel are a good side and have good players. I know their manager Dean Brennan and he can see there is a good opportunity to reach the play-offs.

“Our target isn’t the play-offs but we still need the points.”