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Clay backs Orient’s new coaching team to continue Justin’s legacy

PUBLISHED: 11:00 09 July 2019

Leyton Orient players observe a tribute to former manager Justin Edinburgh at Harlow Town (pic: David Simpson/TGS Photo).

Leyton Orient players observe a tribute to former manager Justin Edinburgh at Harlow Town (pic: David Simpson/TGS Photo).

©TGS Photo tgsphoto.co.uk +44 1376 553468

The 27-year-old reflected on the feeling in the O’s squad and the importance of the collective

James Brophy of Leyton Orient celebrates scoring the third goal during Harlow Town vs Leyton Orient with Craig Clay and other team-mates (pic: David Simpson/TGS Photo).James Brophy of Leyton Orient celebrates scoring the third goal during Harlow Town vs Leyton Orient with Craig Clay and other team-mates (pic: David Simpson/TGS Photo).

Leyton Orient midfielder Craig Clay believes Ross Embleton, Danny Webb and Jobi McAnuff are the best people to build on Justin Edinburgh's success.

The O's played their first match since the shock passing of their late head coach on June 8 away to Harlow Town on Saturday.

Last month, the club confirmed Embleton would be interim head coach with Danny Webb now the interim assistant and McAnuff player-coach.

For Clay, it was the best way to go after Edinburgh's tragic death following a cardiac arrest at the beginning of June.

He said: "With what the gaffer, Justin, built for us last year, the togetherness, he built that, so I know me personally and a lot of the boys here, if someone else was to come in straight away I don't think it would be alright.

"For someone else to come in and put their own touch on things, it feels too raw and too soon. For it to be kept in house from my point of view was the only decision that could have been made."

It has been a tough week for O's players with a private funeral taking place for Edinburgh last Thursday (July 4) and a memorial service will occur on Tuesday (July 16) at Chelmsford Cathedral.

A minute's applause took place at Harlow and the non-league side raised £851 for Justin Edinburgh Foundation after volunteers at the Hawks went around with collection buckets.

It was the first playing hurdle for the squad to get through and while Clay knows more challenges are to come, he is confident they can get through it together.

He added: "The gaffer was the captain of the ship last season and he was the one who built it, but like he said many times when he won awards, the staff was helping and it was all about togetherness and a collective effort.

"We know we will keep it and the lads who have come in can see the team spirit which has been built over the last 18 months, so I'm sure they will gel into it too and we will welcome them in with open arms."

Orient's players returned to the club's Chigwell training base at the end of last month for pre-season and Clay conceded it was difficult.

"Obviously there's no denying it's obviously been tough, it's been tough coming back in," he said, after the 5-0 win over Harlow.

"The first few days were so strange and obviously we had the funeral on Thursday which was a beautiful send-off.

"We're still healing and there's still going to be a healing process for the next few weeks and that's for everyone, the fans, the staff and the players."

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