Leyton Orient boss Russell Slade wants to add to squad before start of season

Russell Slade is still keen to strengthen his squad: Action Images

Russell Slade is still keen to strengthen his squad: Action Images

First published in Sport by

Leyton Orient manager Russell Slade wants to bring in another couple of players to boost their promotion challenge before the start of the season.

The O’s are under new ownership after Francesco Becchetti completed his takeover earlier this month.

The Italian’s arrival is expected to herald significant moves in the transfer market and Orient have been linked with strikers such as Darius Henderson and Ishmael Miller.

The League 1 side were listed as favourites to sign 36-year-old Emile Heskey last week but it is understood there is no truth in the club moving for the former England target man.

Defender Shane Lowry was the fourth player to move to Brisbane Road this summer on Monday but the manager still wants to increase his options ahead of next month’s kick-off.

Slade said: “We’re trying to add to the squad to give us a little bit more strength and I think that will be a lifting factor as well. If we can strengthen the squad in the coming weeks before the start of the season, then I will be delighted and I’m sure the lads that have been with us for such a long time will.”

He added: “I’m not sure being fifth favourites [for promotion] is a fair reflection. Certainly if you looked at the financial table we wouldn’t be anywhere near the top half. But we’ve got a good team and group together.

“If there are a few more pennies available to sign a few players that will help.

“You’ve seen two new goalkeepers that need time to settle in but we feel they can go in at any stage, which we probably haven’t had in the past. So that’s a positive difference.

“If we can add two or three more players than we had last season that will help us in terms of our depth and the fact I would have more options throughout games and the season.”

Under Barry Hearn, Slade worked under a restricted budget with the club not having spent a transfer fee since 2007. But the O’s boss is optimistic the takeover will provide him with more choice in the players he signs.

He said: “Obviously we haven’t spent too much money so far but we hope we can attract and bring in some quality players.

“In the past, I’ve been in a situation where I’ve had to make the squad up with a few loanees or with a few players that have been inexpensive.

“This season I hope that my whole group, 20 or however many it is, are all capable of going in at any stage and performing at a very good standard.”

One of the results of the takeover is that Slade will be working alongside new sporting director Mauro Milanese, although the position has yet to be officially confirmed.

Slade admits new relationships will need time to evolve and believes the structure of the club still needs to be made clearer.

The Orient boss, whose side play a friendly at Gateshead tonight, said: “It’s about getting to know each other, isn’t it? There is a slight change in structure with a sporting director coming in. It’s all about learning about each other and getting on and nothing will ever be bigger than the club. The club’s the most important factor in everything we do.

“My responsibility at the club is for the football and managing that group.

“If I can get help from a new owner and sporting director in moving the club forward then I’ll be delighted and that’s what it’s all about.

“These are the things I’m talking about in terms of structure, the roles and responsibilities. I think it’s early days but they do need to be sorted out and structured a little bit better than perhaps they are at the moment.

“The owner’s never had a football club before so he’s learning as well. We’re learning because we have a slightly different culture in terms of the way we’re working. It’s a learning curve for everybody concerned.”

No-one knows how the O’s will react this season to the disappointment of their Wembley play-off final defeat in May. The manager believes in his group but thinks getting off to another fast start, as they did in their record-breaking run last year, will be vital to their chances of success.

Slade said: “The mood’s always good because you’ve got good people in the changing room. That’s the first point to make. However, we won’t know until we start the season how that’s [Wembley] affected us. I think they’ll dust themselves down and they’re a great group.

“Of course it’s an exciting time. We want to move forward and improve. I asked for the group to improve on seventh place and we did it. We came within a penalty shot of going into the Championship and what we need to do now is to say ‘can we go a little bit better than last season?’

“It’s not going to be easy and I think a good start to the season is going to be crucial and we’re hoping to do that. But there’s a lot of work to be done between now and the start of the season.”

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