Callum Kennedy hails ‘amazing’ support of Leyton Orient fans despite club receiving winding-up petition from HM Revenue & Customs
- Credit: Archant
27-year-old discusses how his role has changed in recent months with so many teenagers now being involved in the O’s relegation battle
Leyton Orient defender Callum Kennedy admits the fans support has been amazing and insists the squad are not going to let the recent off-field problems distract them in their battle to stay up this season.
The League Two club were handed a winding-up petition by HM Revenue and Customs on March 1 over an unpaid tax bill.
Danny Webb’s team responded to the worrying news with a 4-0 victory at Newport County and Kennedy believes the O’s players will remain focused.
He said: “Everything is a bit up in the air and we are not sure what is going to happen. It sounds so cliché to say it and I know it is almost annoying to hear, but if you don’t know what is going on then you can’t worry about it.
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“You can go around in circles trying to second-guess what different people are thinking and you will drive yourself mad doing that, so I have had the mentality over the last couple of years of focusing on me and everything I can do on a day-to-day basis.
“That way, whatever happens, if I know I am improving and doing all I can then that’s all I can control. I can’t control anything else. I’d love to but I can’t, so there is no point thinking about it and what will be, will be on that side of things.
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“But with the games coming up and the games we have had, for the fans to still be supporting us is an amazing feeling. I give them massive props for that because it genuinely does help a lot when you are on the pitch and you have the crowd behind you and you can feel people rooting for you.
“This is another challenge and problems are how you perceive them to be. If you want to shell up and blame everybody else and make excuses then you won’t get anywhere.”
Orient were able to take a lot of positives from Saturday’s 4-0 win at Rodney Parade and one of the main ones was a much-needed clean sheet.
After conceding four against Stevenage a couple of days before, Webb would’ve been eager to see a solid defensive display in South Wales.
The whole back four impressed at Newport and they kept their first clean sheet since the 1-0 win over Accrington Stanley on December 10.
It is something to build on for Kennedy and his team-mates and he reflected on how his role at the club has changed in recent months.
With so many teenagers currently involved in the Orient squad, the 27-year-old left-back is one of the oldest in the starting XI now.
But the former AFC Wimbledon defender is relishing the extra responsibility and eager to get O’s and their talented kids out of trouble.
Kennedy added: “I have never been classed as an older player or anything like that, but because of the amount of young lads we have in the squad, I definitely feel it is asking something different of me and the more senior lads.
“I’m quite enjoying not just thinking about my own personal performance, but trying to instil extra confidence into the young lads and giving them advice.
“I’ve probably never been in a position to do that before and in a weird way I thrive off adversity and I like challenges and when things seem to be stacked against you.
“In my eyes that is when you get a measure of what you are made, so I’m embracing it. We got ourselves into this, so we have to get ourselves out of it.”
More results like Saturday and Orient could well complete what would be a great escape and avoid relegation to the National League.
If O’s can stay up then the future could be very bright with so many talented teenagers coming through the academy and making their mark.
With Kennedy now one of the older heads in the group, he is keen to keep pushing the youngsters to ensure they fulfil their potential.
“I think the great thing about having lots of kids is that they are almost fearless and there is no pressure on them. They didn’t get us into this mess, we got ourselves into it and they have come in and been a breath of fresh air,” said Kennedy.
“They have been playing freely and they are obviously very good players and there is nothing like being thrown in the deep end to stand you in good stead for the rest of your career.
“I’m trying to be the best example I can be to them on a daily basis because if they work hard to try and improve little parts of their game day in, day out then it could open up endless possibilities for some of them.
“There are some very good young lads here who haven’t even filled out physically – they are not even at their full-grown state.
“If they keep their hunger, keep working hard and gain some valuable experience along the way then anything they face after this will be a piece of cake because you are not going to get many 18-year-olds playing in a League Two relegation battle.”