Lee Sawyer’s season at Southend United has thus far not gone to plan, with just one start and eight sub appearances to his name in his second spell at Roots Hall. Things came to a head yesterday when he failed to turn up for a pre-match team meeting, and as a result has been dropped from the Shrimpers’ squad for this weekend’s fixture with Carlisle United.

Lee’s continued absence from the team has been a puzzler this season, both for keen Chelsea followers and Southend fans alike, the latter particularly baffled given his superb form there during a loan spell last season. He picked up a knee injury shortly after joining them in pre-season of this year and has since struggled to break into the team, failing to make a single league start (the one to his name came in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy). Rumours abounded of a poor attitude from the Leyton-born midfielder and that manager Steve Tilson wasn’t happy with his attitude, but those were mere hearsay – at least until today.

A Southend United club statement reads:

“Lee Sawyer has not travelled with the Southend United squad today ahead of tomorrow’s match with Carlisle United.

Lee was sent home from training on Thursday for another breach of club discipline.

His failure to attend Thursday’s pre-match team meeting at the training ground, where the team were to prepare for the weekend’s opposition, has angered both his teammates and the managerial staff.

The Club will make no further comment on this matter at this time.”

It is worth noting that Southend are suffering from considerable injuries at the moment and have still chosen to discipline Lee, even if it means working with a much-shortened substitutes bench tomorrow. The wording of their statement – and specifically addressing this as ‘another’ breach of discipline – doesn’t bode well for the youngster. Word out of the club is that he will not feature for them again and may well find his loan spell – due to expire at the turn of the year – cut short to return to Chelsea.

It’s a disappointing turn of events for a player who this time last year was shining for the club he now looks set to have alienated. The full story may never come out, and Lee may well find another loan club, but it’s not good publicity and Chelsea are likely to be disappointed with the turn of events. Hopefully Lee is as well, and the story finds a positive ending.