Captain Nathan Clarke admitted Orient have "thrown away" the chance to return to the top of League 1 after three consecutive defeats.

The O’s promotion hopes have been hit by poor form which has left them behind the top two, Brentford and Wolves, having played one more game.

Orient defender Clarke insists the side must return to the form which took them top of the league and they are determined not to squander their chance of promotion.

Speaking after the Bristol City defeat on Tuesday, Clarke said: “I’m lost for words really. We’ve thrown away a really good chance, especially the last two games have been really frustrating. We need to get out of this rut that we’re in at the moment and really look to get back to the form that’s got us in this position.

“We’ve worked so hard in the beginning part of the season and we definitely don’t want to throw this away now.

“You struggle to put words to it sometimes. We’ll have to look at the DVD but it’s not like us. We’ve been a lot stronger than that but in the past couple of games we seemed to get bullied early on and that’s not like us.”

It would be easy for players to feel sorry for themselves after a dismal ten days for the club but Clarke insists it is time for them to dig in and remain positive.

He said: “It’s all about being positive now. We’re all disappointed, there’s nobody in the stand more disappointed than the players in the dressing room and we’ll be looking to bounce back as quickly as we can and really get the fans behind us again. We’ve been getting the fans in with over 5 or 6,000 at times and that’s fantastic for us. It just proves they’re right behind us and backing us all the way.

“The defeats obviously knocks you. It’s a bit of a kick in the teeth but we’ve got to put it behind us. It’s disappointing but we move on and have got to try and get back to the form which has put us in this position.”

It does not get any easier for the faltering O’s as they travel to fourth-placed Preston North End this weekend but the skipper insists the players are the ones to turn their form around.

Clarke said: “Preston will be really difficult. They are right on our coat tails now and we’ll need to stand up and be counted. The manager’s asked for a reaction and it’s down to us players to give him that.”