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Orient v Bradford preview: O’s look to reignite automatic prospects

Lloyd James celebrates his brilliant opener against Bradford but Nahki Wells denied them all three points. Pic by Simon O'Connor Lloyd James celebrates his brilliant opener against Bradford but Nahki Wells denied them all three points. Pic by Simon O'Connor

Friday, March 28, 2014
1:00 PM

With each dispiriting result the next match becomes all the more important if Leyton Orient are to keep their automatic promotion dream alive in League One.

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Tuesday’s draw with Oldham might not be terminal but victory against Bradford is imperative if the O’s are going to keep pushing Wolves and Brentford - with Rotherham’s strong form meaning they cannot be discounted in the automatic shake-up.

But the east Londoners have won just one of their last five games and after

conceding a last-gasp equaliser to the Latics manager Russell Slade conceded he has a task on his hands to get the players’ spirits up.

“It will be difficult to lift them for Bradford,” he said. “The fact that we were still winning the game with minutes to go is hard to take.

“But they’re a good group, we’ll crack on and be ready. When the crowd are unhappy that makes things even harder because confidence issues creep in.

“This team in terms of commitment and work ethic is phenomenal. It never gives up. Booing is for when you’re not working hard. I can accept that. The true fan knows this team works as hard as it poossibly can week in week out.”

Orient will have to cope with the promotion run-in without influential goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic after he was recalled for a second time by parent club Hull City.

The Tigers’ first choice stopper Allan McGregor was sent off for the second time this season at West Ham on Wednesday night, but he also suffered kidney damage in the challenge with Mohamed Diame which saw him receive his marching orders.

It could mean a quicker than anticipated return to the first team for Jamie Jones after three months out with a back injury.

The inexperienced Jake Larkins is another option but Slade could yet re-enter the loan market to bolster his options.

Orient have won only once in five games but Bradford are on a poor run of form themselves with one win in six.

The Bantams have struggled since top scorer Nahki Wells, who grabbed a last-minute equaliser against Orient in December, departed for Huddersfield Town in January.

They are likely to include former O’s striker Aaron McLean in their starting line-up.

The importance of picking up three points cannot be overstated and Slade is not throwing in the towel on a top two finish just yet.

“Where we are at the moment is an astonishing achievement, but we want more, we’re fighting for more,” added Slade.

“We’ve still got so much to play for when you look where we’ve come from. At the start of the season we were at long odds to be where we are now. It’s been a fantastic effort. We’re all but in the play-offs but we’re still striving for automatic.”r.”

Midfielder Romain Vincelot serves the last game of a two-game ban for picking up 10 yellow cards and Marvin Bartley is doubtful after picking up a hamstring injury in the draw with Oldham, as is Shaun Batt.

The O’s are three points behind second-placed Brentford, who have two games in hand while Rotherham are four points behind Orient with a game in hand.

In last season’s League One, the O’s would have needed another eight points from their last seven games to clinch the title – but this is no ordinary season.

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