Orient boss insists Posh clash will not prove decisive (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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Leyton Orient boss Russell Slade insists Peterborough United clash will not decide promotion race
Russell Slade insists Leyton Orient’s top-of-the-table clash at Peterborough United will not prove decisive in the promotion race.
The League 1 leaders face a trip to their rivals this weekend, with a three-point advantage over third-placed Posh, but the O’s boss believes it is still too early for the match to play a defining role in the season.
Slade said: “As we play more games it will become more significant but we just need to keep that momentum going. After Peterborough the Preston home league game will become even more important.
“I just see it as a big game, but it won’t be decisive because it’s too early. If it was with four games to go then it would be different. We can’t do much more than we’re doing and it’s up to other people to form an opinion but we’re there on merit and that’s the most important thing.”
Defender Mathieu Baudry will miss the all-ticket match with his knee injury but Scott Cuthbert (hamstring) and Elliot Omozusi (groin) have a decent chance of being fit despite not training early on this week.
The hosts will be without forward Lee Tomlin through suspension after he was sent off in their defeat at Colchester United last weekend. But Slade is still wary of a squad which he believes is up there with the best in the league.
He said: “It is a tough game but if we want to achieve anything we have to go to places like Peterborough, who are doing fantastically well, and get something from the game.
“Going forward is their strength even though they will be without Tomlin. Britt Assombalonga has been playing very well along with Tyrone Barnett.”
Orient have been exceptionally consistent in the league over the last year with the East Londoners taking 90 points from 44 games dating back to last November. This promotion-winning form indicates the O’s deserve to be at the top and are not likely to fall away during the rest of the campaign.
Slade insists his team will prepare in the same way for the Peterborough match and believes their results over the last 12 months show they do not need to alter their game plan.
“We have a special group and we’re doing particularly well,” he said. “My message to the players was we don’t have to change anything. In terms of our league performances we’re 90 points from 44 games so we don’t have to change a thing.
“It’s a tough game and they will see it as an important match. Both teams will see it as an important game and we’ll prepare in the same way we have so far for those 44 games because that’s 90 points now. There’s nothing wrong with our form or what we’re doing. We just need to keep that momentum going.”
Although Orient are top of the league, their squad cannot match the strength in depth of Peterborough or second-placed Wolves. Slade recognises this and admits they will suffer if they are hit by a spate of injuries during the season.
The O’s boss, whose side picked up their 11th league win this season at home to Rotherham United on Saturday, said: “We probably couldn’t cope with six or seven players out but they [Peterborough and Wolves] might. For us, two or three maybe we can cope with, but if we get a host of injuries we obviously have a severe problem because virtually everybody that was available [against Rotherham] was on the bench. They’re either in the dugout or on the pitch.
“A whole host of things [could derail them] but my biggest worry would be injuries and after that probably suspensions at the wrong time.
“Players will lose their form from time to time but I think you saw that halfway through the second half I made substitutions and my belief in the group is there.
“I brought on fresh legs because you have to believe in the group and I do believe in them. That’s why we made those relatively early subtitutions to see the game out.”
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