Orient’s McSweeney sets a couple of targets
Ex-Hartlepool man wants to claim a permanent place and help push O’s up the table
Summer signing Leon McSweeney has stepped out of the shadows and played a leading role in Orient’s bid to climb out of the bottom four.
The 27-year-old, who joined from Hartlepool in the summer, failed to make an impression during the early part of the season.
But in three of the last four games he has played at right-back and emerged as one of the stars during last weekend’s win against Bury.
The Irishman now has two targets – to try and cement his place in the team and help push Orient up the table.
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McSweeney, who can also operate in midfield, played full-back in League One with Stockport and is happy playing in that position.
“I’ve got a great engine and I can get up and down and it suits me to be honest,” he said.
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“It complements my attributes and I have to keep backing it up when I get the opportunity and give the gaffer no reason to take me out of the side.”
With regular right-back Eliott Omozusi fit and defender Ben Chorley ready for a return, McSweeney knows competition will be fierce.
Both Omozusi and Scott Cuthbert have played at right-back this season and McSweeney admitted: “The lads are coming back from injury now and with a fully-fit squad everyone is looking over their shoulders and knows that they have to perform, otherwise someone will take their place.
“But right-back suits me, the more I play there the more familiar I am going to be and the stronger I’ll get performance-wise.”
But to keep his shirt is not the only target – as he believes the O’s could still make the play-offs – especially as they are only one point worse off than they were at this stage last season.
“A realistic target is the play-offs. We finished seventh last year and the lads will tell you we had aspirations at the start of the season and that’s where we want to go back and be challenging,” said McSweeney.
He acknowledges the poor start could sabotage their efforts as they prepare to entertain Sheffield United on Saturday.
“We can’t hide from the fact that we have had a stinker of a start that is going to hamper us probably,” he said.
“But we have set mini-goals now. The first was to get out of the bottom four and get in touching distance of the teams above us and I think that we have done that, we are there or thereabouts. Now is the time to stand up and be counted and try and match what we set out to do at the start of the season.
“The gaffer set us a points target from the opening five or six games and that didn’t transpire.
“The way things have gone, we have broken them down into baby building blocks and we’re matching the targets now and we can start taking bigger leaps once we start moving up the table.”
After taking 10 points from the last four games, McSweeney insists the confidence has come flooding back.
“We have got momentum now, which we didn’t have before,” he said. “We have got a good team. People say that the league table doesn’t lie and it certainly doesn’t, but we have shown we can match the best and we have done that with three wins and a good draw at Huddersfield.
“The self-belief is pouring into the squad; you can see that in training.
“The atmosphere in training is fantastic now and it was grim to say the least when we were on a losing streak. But that’s football.
“We need now to carry it forward and don’t take our foot off the pedal.
“I think we have had every kick up the bum that we need and we just need to follow it through.”
If you can’t make Saturday’s game against Sheffield United, follow our coverage on www.london24.com/leyton-orient