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Bilic full of praise for new Orient boss

22:30 21 January 2016

Slaven Bilic at Newcastle

Slaven Bilic at Newcastle

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Hammers manager insists Kevin Nolan is still good enough to be playing in the Premier League

New Leyton Orient player-manager Kevin Nolan (right) alongside president Francesco Becchetti (pic: LOFC).New Leyton Orient player-manager Kevin Nolan (right) alongside president Francesco Becchetti (pic: LOFC).

West Ham United boss Slaven Bilic believes Kevin Nolan is still good enough to play in the Premier League.

That will be music to the ears of Leyton Orient supporters after the 33-year-old was appointed as their new player-manager today.

He has signed a two-and-a-half year contract with the Brisbane Road outfit and will take charge of his first match this weekend at Wycombe Wanderers.

Nolan departed the Hammers on August 27 after Bilic couldn’t guarantee him regular football at Upton Park.

Even though he has been without a club since, not many would have predicted his next move to be to a League Two team.

“I am glad for him. I am only surprised that a man and a player of his calibre didn’t get a club before this,” said Bilic.

“Maybe it wasn’t in his plans and maybe he wanted to rest. I am not in touch with him.

“He is a great personality and still a really good footballer. I was expecting him to go somewhere in the Premier League or at least in the Championship so hopefully he will continue to play for a few years to come.”

After leaving West Ham last year, the former Bolton Wanderers and Newcastle United midfielder trained with the O’s for three months.

Previous Orient head coach Ian Hendon offered Nolan a contract in December, but terms couldn’t be agreed between the experienced ace and the League Two outfit.

But in a strange twist of fate, Hendon has now departed the club and Nolan is his replacement.

The former Hammers favourite has always been tipped as a future manager, but few would have expected him to make the transition so quickly.

After captaining Bolton, Newcastle and West Ham, he will now have the chance to put those leadership skills to the test at Brisbane Road.

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