Andy Edwards: Relegation is a serious threat for Leyton Orient

PUBLISHED: 10:30 11 January 2017

Leyton Orient manager Andy Edwards looks on from the touchline against Barnet (pic: Simon O'Connor).

Leyton Orient manager Andy Edwards looks on from the touchline against Barnet (pic: Simon O'Connor).

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Former Southend United defender discusses fitness of Sam Dalby and Sandro Semedo and east Londoners inconsistency

Andy Edwards says Leyton Orient must front up to the possibility of relegation from the Football League if they are to beat the drop.

The O’s boss insisted after the 3-1 defeat to Barnet on Saturday that the squad have to come to terms with the fact they are in a battle to survive.

Following the derby loss to the Bees, Orient are 21st in the league table and just four points above the bottom two – Cheltenham Town and Newport County.

Edwards said: “If we turn a blind eye to relegation we are in deep trouble. It is not unthinkable. You’ve seen some of the teams who have dropped down to the Conference or the National League as it’s called now.

“Clubs like Wrexham are in there and Cambridge United have been too, as have Colchester United. The list is endless of traditional teams that have dropped out of the Football League, so we would be naive and stupid to think we are not under threat.”

What has not helped Orient’s cause in recent weeks is injuries with the skipper Robbie Weir ruled out for the rest of the season on Thursday.

The summer signing from Burton Albion appeared to suffer anterior cruciate ligament damage to his knee at Exeter City on January 2.

And three days later the news was confirmed by Orient, which means he joins fellow central midfielder Liam Kelly on the sidelines.

Kelly is expected to be fit again around the end of January, but Edwards could do with the former Oldham Athletic captain now.

The O’s manager did reveal the latest on Sam Dalby, who was absent again on Saturday with the 17-year-old not featuring since the 1-1 draw with Cambridge United on New Year’s Eve due to an ankle problem.

Edwards added: “We hope Sam will be fit in two weeks time (for the visit of Morecambe). Sandro Semedo failed a fitness test at 12.30pm before the Barnet game because of a toe injury, so we expected him to be fine.

“Unfortunately that wasn’t the case, so we gave Josh Koroma a chance and I thought it was a positive showing from him.”

The performances of Koroma, just 18, have been a rare bright spot from the last two defeats against Exeter and Barnet, which have resulted in O’s conceding seven goals.

But the big concern is the mistakes creeping into Orient’s play at the back with several players at fault.

An error by the usually reliable Alex Cisak handed Bees the opener on Saturday and the defending for the second and third Barnet goals left a lot to be desired.

Former centre-back Edwards initially appeared to have made O’s more solid, although he cannot legislate for some of the simple mistakes which have occurred in the last two fixtures.

The Orient manager knew he had a big task on his hands from day one and that certainly seems the case now with the Brisbane Road club in desperate need of reinforcements.

“Our form across the season has not been good. We have been very inconsistent and there has never been a run of games whoever has been in charge,” said Edwards.

“I think we had a spell at the start of the campaign when we done ok, but you have to look at the squad we had then to where it is now in terms of size and competition.

“We had Dean Cox, Harry Cornick, Liam Kelly and Jay Simpson to name a few so we are very much depleted. Michael Collins has now come into the group and Teddy Mezague is fit having been out injured for eight months.

“But we are not where we want to be and I don’t think we’re comparable to other clubs in terms of squad size and experience. Teams at the bottom across the whole division are strengthening and I hope we can do the same.”

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