Orient captain Nathan Clarke has hit back at media reports over dressing room unrest and insists the players are using the negative coverage as motivation on the pitch.

The O’s have been the subject of reports in the national media where players have been accused of being unhappy over the high wages being paid to their new signings this season.

The Evening Standard also claimed there are doubts in the squad over the ability of Italian striker Gianvito Plasmati who is understood to be one of the top earners at Brisbane Road.

It also suggested players at the club doubted the dedication of former Liverpool defender Andrea Dossena following his move to the club.

But Clarke launched a passionate defence of the players following their win at Chesterfield and criticised the media coverage.

Clarke said: “To put that in the press as a negative is really disappointing on our behalf and I think we’ve definitely turned that into a positive.

“We were shocked more than anything. There was shock and disappointment if it has come out and been leaked out. I know for a fact it’s not one of my players.

"We’ve got a good group who are desperate to get out of this mess we’re in. To go to the press and think that’s the easy option and will get us out is completely wrong. So we stick together and bat off all the negativity and try to turn it into a positive which we’ve done.”

The O’s skipper continued: “As a professional footballer you have the hunger and desire to win games. We had hundreds of fans here again and there’s not one player that’s not going to put a shift in because he’s got a couple of pounds less than the next man.

“That’s rubbish again and I’m disappointed that’s come out because I know a lot of people at the club, especially guys like Gianvito are devastated someone’s gone to the press saying we doubt his ability. “I think that’s ridiculous. The lad has come in under difficult circumstances. The team is not doing well and nobody’s really shining.

“He’s come under a bit of flack so I’m disappointed that people’s names have been brought out. It’s down to me as captain and the staff to get round big Vito because he’s one of the characters of this team.”

Clarke was particularly unhappy that indivduals were singled out due to the amount of money they earn and that the desire of his team-mates was questioned.

The defender added: “It’s a team game and not an individual game. The team’s not done well this season but it’s not down to one person. It’s down to a group of us. It’s down to the staff and how we act in training.

“We’re desperate to prove a lot of people wrong. That’s probably something that’s spurred us on now. We’re a good group and I think we need to turn that into a positive.

“The disappointment of the previous months is at the back of us now. We want to write a new chapter and it starts today.

“We’ve done that, got the win and we need to move on and get refocused.”

O’s midfielder Dean Cox did not want to be drawn on the subject and is determined to do let his football do the talking.

He said: “That's nothing to do with me. I'm not really concerned about that. Whoever's put that in [the papers] has put it in. But we're not concerned. We didn't use that as an excuse today and we could have quite easily used that as an excuse but we didn't.

“Like I said, I'm not really concerned about that stuff. That's over my head. I'm paid to play football and I take it very seriously and I’m just delighted I've ended up getting the winner for Leyton Orient.”

The club have significantly increased their salary budget this season since last summer’s takeover by Francesco Becchetti with players such as Plasmati, Darius Henderson and Jobi McAnuff believed to be on more than £7,500 per week and among the higher earners.

But Clarke, who is in his third season at Brisbane Road, has rubbished talk of unrest over wages.

“That’s football,” he said. “Yes we’re in League One but we’ve got a chairman that backs the manager whether that is in wages or helping us with facilities or travel down the day before like he has done. You’re going to get that.

“There’s always differences in wages. You don’t get one team that’s always going to be on the same so to point the finger at that is a bit of a cop out really. It’s an easy thing to say because he’s on more than me I’m not going to try or work.”

Reports have also suggested the players have requested meetings with manager Fabio Liverani and have held their own team talks with the Italian’s lack of English hindering the pre-match build up.

Clarke said: “I’m a bit surprised about that. Where it’s come from I’m not too sure. There’s talk of player meetings and staff meetings. When you are at the bottom of the league, like we are, of course there are going to be meetings and people airing their views.

“There’s people going to be disappointed and wanting to get that off their chest. It’s no different to any other club. If you go to any club in all the leagues and if they are at the bottom they’ll be trying to have meetings to iron out exactly what’s going wrong and put their finger on it. We’re no different.”

Fans have turned on the team in recent weeks following the defeats against Scunthorpe United, Colchester and Fleetwood. But Clarke insists the players’ will to win cannot be questioned.

He said: “It’s only difficult because we’re making it difficult. The supporters are there to back us and you’ve seen that again today. They’re desperate for us to do well. When we do go behind it’s frustrating for them and disappointing for us. We’re working so hard to get out of this mess so when we do go behind it’s frustration on all parts.

“We feel that but with me being on the bench [in previous weeks] I saw the reaction from a few fans. The desire and hunger should never be questioned.

“As a professional footballer you are desperate to do well and play as well as you can for the club and team-mates. You don’t want to let anybody down and the desire comes from the next mate digging you out of trouble and working as hard as you can. We’ve definitely shown the hunger and desire to come back but it’s always been with us.

“I don’t want to say the fans are wrong because obviously results have not gone our way but we’re desperate to show we want to do well for this team. We feel as if we can be as one it helps us on the pitch.”