Andy Hessenthaler: Dover Athletic match is perfect League Two preparation for Leyton Orient
PUBLISHED: 12:00 15 July 2016
Experienced boss goes back to his former club and discusses fitness of Paul McCallum and Dean Cox
Leyton Orient manager Andy Hessenthaler believes this weekend’s friendly with Dover Athletic is perfect preparation for the new League Two campaign.
The O’s make the trip down to Kent for their third pre-season encounter of the summer against the National League outfit.
Last season the Whites finished fifth in the division below League Two and lost out in the play-off semi-finals.
Hessenthaler spent three years as player-manager before leaving in 2010, but is looking forward to going back to the Crabble Athletic Ground.
He said: “I had three good years at Dover. We got two promotions and had a really good time in terms of where they were going at that stage.
“To be fair to the chairman Jim Parmenter, he gave me an opportunity to come in and bring some decent players to the club.
“We got back-to-back promotions and just missed out on the third year in the play-offs and Chris Kinnear has come in, very experienced, and moved the club onto the next level and the National Conference.
“They had a great season last year so they’ll be physical and get it up to their front players – it won’t be an easy game at the weekend. I feel these are the matches we need to test ourselves because it’ll be like a second division game.
“When we go to the likes of Barnet and other teams like Wycombe Wanderers, who have just brought in a mate of mine in, it goes up to their forwards and Dover are pretty much like that. It will be a good test.”
Orient supporters making the trip to Kent will hope to see more of Dean Cox after he played 45 minutes at Wealdstone.
Hessenthaler admits they need to handle the east Londoners talisman with care and not rush him back too quickly.
“He has had a long time out ‘Coxy’ and he always looks bright on the ball, but again we need to get him up to speed,” said the 50-year-old.
“In Italy he worked really hard and did a whole week’s training with lots of running and got involved in the game out there.
“He just needs to keep ticking over and getting more minutes in his legs and hopefully come August 6 he’ll be ready. If he’s not then he won’t be far away from being ready for that month.”
Paul McCallum didn’t feature at Wealdstone on Tuesday with Hessenthaler explaining the forward needs to improve his fitness.
Both Cox and the ex-West Ham United striker missed large chunks of the previous campaign after suffering cruciate knee ligament damage.
Orient’s manager is thrilled they are both over those problems, but knows they need to be wary of using them too much.
Hessenthaler added: “We’ve got to be careful with ‘Coxy’ and Paul because they had really tough injuries and were out for a long time.
“Both were big misses for the club last year and very influential. Paul started off really well with Jay Simpson and ‘Coxy’ was top of the assists in the first month of the season.
“When you lose that it is very tough to replace so it’s great to have them back. They are the type of players who would have helped us last year, but unfortunately we lost them and didn’t replace them.”