Andy Edwards: Relegation would be a disaster for Leyton Orient

PUBLISHED: 10:00 25 January 2017 | UPDATED: 12:08 25 January 2017

Leyton Orient players walk off at full-time after losing 2-1 to Portsmouth at Fratton Park (pic: Simon O'Connor).

Leyton Orient players walk off at full-time after losing 2-1 to Portsmouth at Fratton Park (pic: Simon O'Connor).

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Former Southend United defender discusses Liam Kelly’s fitness and departures of Alan Dunne and Jordan Bowery

Leyton Orient manager Andy Edwards and assistant Danny Webb urge their players on at Portsmouth (pic Simon O'Connor)Leyton Orient manager Andy Edwards and assistant Danny Webb urge their players on at Portsmouth (pic Simon O'Connor)

Andy Edwards insists everybody associated with Leyton Orient realises relegation from League Two this season would be a disaster.

The O’s have been battling to stay out of the bottom two since the middle of October and sit in 21st position.

Notts County and Newport County occupy the relegation places currently and the Orient boss is confident his team can survive.

“Everybody associated with the club - the players, staff and the fans - realises it would be a disaster if we got relegated,” said Edwards.

“Some teams bounce back, but a lot don’t and it is certainly easier to stay up than to get promoted from the National League.”

Liam Kelly is set to give Edwards and O’s a big boost by returning to training at some point this week.

The ex-Oldham Athletic captain was set to take part on Monday, but a change of venue because of the weather forced his comeback to briefly be postponed.

Whenever a player is out for a lengthy period of time their importance grows and is sometimes overplayed.

But since Kelly tore his hamstring against Portsmouth on October 8, Orient have plummeted down the table.

Although the 26-year-old started the season a little slowly, he was extremely consistent from the middle of August until his injury.

“Liam Kelly was meant to train on Monday, but because we had to change the surface we held him back from it,” said Edwards.

“He is obviously close now, although it will take him a little while to get his match fitness up to speed.

“The centre of midfield is all of a sudden looking like a strong position for us because we have Nigel Atangana, Sammy Moore, Michael Collins, Freddy Moncur and Liam to return shortly.”

Orient are light of senior options up front, however, after Jordan Bowery left the club to join Crewe Alexandra on loan last week.

Edwards has Paul McCallum and Ollie Palmer available plus teenagers Sam Dalby, Victor Adeboyejo and Tristan Abrahams.

Alan Dunne also bid farewell to O’s by mutual consent recently after a difficult time at Brisbane Road.

The ex-Millwall captain made just seven starts during his 18 month spell with the east London club.

With Dunne and Bowery gone, it leaves the Orient squad looking thin in terms of players with Football League experience.

“The loan is an opportunity for Jordan and a good move for him in many respects, but if he isn’t replaced it does leave us light in that area,” said Edwards.

“And it’s been difficult for ‘Dunney’ because he’s not played a lot of games and it is tough to keep up your match fitness when that’s the case.

“I know myself, when I was in my thirties, that it can be really hard if you’re not involved. He was a popular player and a great character, so I wish him all the best.”

Dunne has since signed a player-coach deal at National League side Bromley, who have former O’s Ben Chorley, George Porter and Blair Turgott in their squad.

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