Orient continue their search for a star

Competition has reached the semi-final stage

Orient’s search for a star is nearing an end as Samsung’s Win A Pro Contract competition has reached the semi-final stage, with just 22 players left fighting for a one-year professional deal at the Matchroom Stadium.

More than 5,000 players entered this season’s competition and the top 360 players were picked to take part in regional trials at Goals Soccer Centres around the country.

A total of 88 players then took part in the quarter-final stage – four 11-a-side matches held at Hyde FC and Staines Town during November.

Those 88 have now been whittled down to just 22 by scouts from Orient and Swindon Town – who will also offer one player a professional contract.

The remaining competitors will now play in an 11-a-side match at Swindon Town’s County Ground on Sunday, December 16, kick-off 1pm. Manager Russell Slade will be in attendance.

The 22 players are battling it out to be among 11 players selected for the final against a Leyton Orient XI at the Matchroom Stadium in January.

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After the final, Slade will invite a select group of players to train with the first-team squad before offering one lucky player a year-long contract.

Slade said: “I’m really looking forward to watching the players in action over a 90 minute, 11-a-side match. It will be interesting to see how they work as a team.

“I’ll be assessing the ability of the players, but I’m also going to be looking at their fitness, intelligence on the pitch and attitude.

“Whoever I pick to win a contract with Leyton Orient will have a great chance to start a long and successful professional career. But they’ll need to work very hard to make it happen.”