Orient trio face fitness battles ahead of Preston clash

But new loan signing is added to the squad

Orient skipper Nathan Clarke, who has yet to miss a game this season, is fighting to be fit for Saturday’s home clash with Preston North End.

Defender Clarke limped out of the game at Porstmouth on Tuesday night with an ankle injury and faces a late fitness test along with winger Dean Cox and midfield man Jimmy Smith, who also picked up knocks during the game.

Mathieu Baudry is likely to deputise if Clarke fails to make it, but the O’s skipper said: “Fingers crossed I might be okay.”

Orient manager Russell Slade will add new loan signing Alex Smith to his squad. The 21-year-old Fulham midfielder has joined the O’s until January 2.

Smith, who can also play in defence, has made one substitute appearance for the Premier League side when he came on during the 3-0 home win against West Brom back in September.

Orient will be looking for their fifth consecutive win and manager Slade hopes that tiredness will not take it’s toll after his side have travelled almost 1,200 miles in the last week to play three successive away games against Gloucester City, Carlisle United and Portsmouth.

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“Saturday’s game with Preston will be our fourth in 11 days and fatigue and injuries will eventually take its toll and Clarke, Cox and Smith are all doubtful,” said Slade.

With injury worries piling up the Orient manager was delighted to bring Smith in on loan.

“He’s a player that we have watched on numerous occasions for Fulham’s under-21 side and he has always impressed,” he said.

One piece of good news for Slade is that defender Scott Cuthbert is on his way back.

Cuthbert, who has been out since the second game of the season with a hamstring problem, played in a behind-closed-doors friendly last week and is due for another run out next week.

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