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Orient manager delighted with young defenders Happe and Ling

PUBLISHED: 15:00 19 December 2018

Leyton Orient centre back Dan Happe battles with a Beaconsfield Town opponent (pic: Simon O'Connor).

Leyton Orient centre back Dan Happe battles with a Beaconsfield Town opponent (pic: Simon O'Connor).

Simon O'Connor Photography

The 49-year-old hit back at some of Sam Ling’s critics and hailed Dan Happe

Leyton Orient right-back Sam Ling looks to pass the ball forward against Gateshead (pic: Simon O'Connor).Leyton Orient right-back Sam Ling looks to pass the ball forward against Gateshead (pic: Simon O'Connor).

Leyton Orient head coach Justin Edinburgh was full of praise for Sam Ling and Dan Happe after Saturday’s 4-0 win over Beaconsfield Town in the FA Trophy first round.

The two academy graduates impressed in a back four which contained teenage left-back Jayden Sweeney and the experienced George Elkobi.

All four played their part in helping the O’s qualify for the second round and Happe in particular again caught the eye.

Despite his chances being limited this season, whenever called upon by Edinburgh he has always delivered.

O’s head coach said: “Dan is class, absolutely class and the only thing stopping Dan Happe from playing is the form of Josh Coulson and Marvin Ekpiteta.

“That is the situation and because of that we know we are in a very good position and it was seamless for Dan.

“He was playing on his weaker side as well, but I thought he was class and we have a lot of young talent here and so it is exciting for me and this football club.”

Full-back Ling was one of many academy graduates to exit Orient during the previous ownership.

He returned in February, however, after time at Dagenham & Redbridge and showed his potential in the second half of the campaign.

A slow start to this season and an injury saw him lose his place to another ex-under-18 member in Myles Judd, but he is back fully fit again now.

Judd, meanwhile, has suffered a fitness issue of his own and so Ling is enjoying a run of games in the first-team.

The chance to return to the starting XI occurred slightly earlier than anticipated for the England C international, but rather than wait until he was 100 per cent, he stepped up and played for Orient while not fully fit against Gateshead in the National League.

From some sections of the O’s fanbase, Ling received criticism for his display against the Heed and then for his showing at Boreham Wood on December 8.

Edinburgh laughed off the negative talk around his performances, however, and paid tribute to his commitment to the team following a fine display against Beaconsfield.

He added: “Sam was assured and he is getting fitter. It was an assured performance. “You can’t affect what other people say, but I’ve said it before and I will say it again – he could have easily sat in the stand for the last two league games.

“Instead, he has put the team before himself and if you get criticism for that, I laugh at it. I find it bizarre that someone can put the team before themselves and come in for criticism, but that is opinion. If there has been criticism then it is unjustified for me.”

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