Robin Cottle, Reporter
Friday, February 21, 2014
With promotion rivals Brentford and Wolves playing each other on Saturday, the importance of picking up three points at home to Swindon Town is not lost on Orient manager Russell Slade.
But he insists they need to take care of their own business before worrying about what’s going on elsewhere.
“We can only control the controllables,” he said. “We need to focus on getting a positive result against Swindon.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen between Brentford and Wolves, but we know something is going to give. Every week is big in the situation we’re in and
we need to make sure we capitalise.”
Orient won 3-1 at the County Ground in November, a game overshadowed by a Swindon fan bursting on to the pitch and attacking goalkeeper Jamie Jones.
The Robins, four points off the play-off places, were a penalty shoot-out away from a trip to Wembley in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy southern final before losing to Peterborough on Monday. And although star striker Nile Ranger is also out for the season with a hamstring tear, Slade is not taking them lightly.
He said: “It’s going to be a tough one against Mark Cooper’s Swindon. I’m not going to comment on the psychology of another team.
“It’s up to them to decide if they’re going to be up for it, but I’m sure it’s going to be a difficult game.”
After four games without a win, Slade praised Orient’s fans for turning up on a cold Tuesday night for their 2-0 win against Stevenage.
But he will not be getting carried away as O’s climbed back into the top two, preferring to concentrate on making sure they clinch at least a play-off place.
The 53-year-old said: “We need to ensure we get 75 or 76 points to extend our season.
“That’s what we set out to do and then if we’ve got five or six games left after that, we’ll take the shackles off and have a right go!”
Slade confirmed defender Elliot Omozusi has a good chance of making the team after missing three games with a groin injury. And goalkeeper Jones is stepping up his recovery from a back injury, after stepping in the gym for the first time in two months this week.
Swindon boss Mark Cooper is expecting a tough game against the promotion chasers but is confident of getting a result.
He added that some people might have been waiting for Orient’s “bubble to burst” after four games without victory prior to the win against Stevenage, but he fully expects them to be there or thereabouts come the end of the season.
He said: “You’re allowed to lose games, it happens to the best of teams. They’ve had a result the other night, they’ve made sure it was a blip and not the bubble bursting.
“They know they’ve got to keep winning to stay in the top two and we’ll make it as uncomfortable for them as we can.
“They’ve got a squad that you can tell has been together for a while, they’ve got very good characters that you would want in the trenches with you. I’d say they’ve got a group of good men.”
Cooper, who briefly played for the O’s in the 1997/98 season, called them “resolute” but thinks the Robins have to make things difficult for them.
He said: “They’ve done well, Orient, but we have to go there and ask questions of them.”
Swindon are down to the bare bones after an injury crisis has left their squad decimated.
As well as Ranger, Cooper will be without defender Grant Hall, Spurs loanees Alex Pritchard (medial ligament strain) and Ryan Mason (match fitness after injury) and midfielder Louis Thompson (bruised ankle).
Forward Dany N’Guessan faces a late fitness test on a groin strain while defenders Nathan Thompson and Jay McEveley are suspended.