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Orient could use FA Cup tie as a chance to show squad depth

PUBLISHED: 17:00 17 October 2018 | UPDATED: 17:15 17 October 2018

Leyton Orient's James Alabi is tackled by Hartlepool United's Peter Kioso (pic: Simon O'Connor).

Leyton Orient's James Alabi is tackled by Hartlepool United's Peter Kioso (pic: Simon O'Connor).

Simon O'Connor Photography

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Leyton Orient will take a break from National League action for the very first time this season on Saturday when they start their FA Cup campaign for the term.

The O’s have been handed a short trip to divisional rivals Maidstone United in the fourth qualifying round and while the tie certainly lacks glamour, this group of staff and players enjoy winning.

Orient will want to secure another victory this weekend and yet what does head coach Justin Edinburgh do with regard to squad selection?

In 16 league games this season, the O’s have virtually stuck with the same starting XI apart from the opening four games, but after a strenuous couple of months, this could be an ideal time for change.

Either way, Edinburgh is relaxed and calm about the option. He said: “I don’t believe making changes would weaken the team.

“If we do make changes or if we don’t, either way it will be the right decision made by us to win the game and that’s how it will always be.”

There is no doubt Orient’s focus this season is on the league, but they will want to reach the first round of the FA Cup at the very least over the next week.

After playing Maidstone, the O’s will host new boys Havant & Waterlooville on October 27, then visit Eastleigh on October 30 and finally make a long trip up north to AFC Fylde on November 3.

Given how busy that seven day period will be, it could persuade Edinburgh to shake up his XI on Saturday in Kent.

“We will look at it,” Edinburgh confirmed. “I think the squad is good enough to rotate.

“But we are mindful of the fact we are in a competition with great tradition and we want to do well in it, so we will see how the week unfolds.”

Given Joe Widdowson’s sending off against Hartlepool United, Sam Ling should get a rare opportunity on Saturday.

It will be his first start since August 11 and others likely to feature from the off include Charlie Lee, after he was rested last weekend, and Josh Koroma.

Both have started the majority of games for Orient this season, so them two coming in will, if anything, strengthen the side.

Edinburgh may be tempted to rest the likes of Craig Clay and James Dayton while Matt Harrold is champing at the bit to start.

Dan Happe should hopefully get an opportunity too, and perhaps the fit again George Elokobi, which would allow Josh Coulson a well earned rest and reflecting on some of the players potentially coming in, you can see why Edinburgh is relaxed.

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