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Leyton Orient manager Andy Hessenthaler doesn't know if Jay Simpson could leave as Southend United linked with signing ex-Arsenal forward

PUBLISHED: 13:00 07 August 2016

Jay Simpson scored 25 goals for Leyton Orient in League Two last season (pic: Simon O'Connor).

Jay Simpson scored 25 goals for Leyton Orient in League Two last season (pic: Simon O'Connor).

07958 573219 simon.oconnor@virgin.net

O's top goalscorer from last season wasn't involved at Cheltenham Town and could complete move to local rivals this week

Leyton Orient manager Andy Hessenthaler admits he doesn’t know if Jay Simpson could leave the club after the forward wasn’t involved at Cheltenham Town yesterday.

Speculation over the last few days has suggested Southend United are interested in the ex-Arsenal striker.

Blues boss Phil Brown told the Echo he was in talks with a League Two forward that had been at a Premier League club in the past.

Although Simpson, who top scored for the O’s last season with 25 goals, is understood to be ill, he wasn’t at Whaddon Road yesterday or Orient’s open training session today.

It is believed the forward is now close to sealing a switch to local rivals Southend with less than a year to run on his contract and it could be completed in the coming days.

“Jay wasn’t available for selection and that’s pretty much it. I don’t know (if he could leave the club),” said Hessenthaler.

Without Simpson, Orient made an excellent start against the Robins with Gavin Massey finding the net after three minutes.

Sandro Semedo delivered a dangerous cross from the left and the O’s winger side footed into the corner.

Cheltenham hit back 14 minutes from time when Billy Waters finished smartly from close range to give both teams a share of the spoils.

“Young Semedo doesn’t use his right foot very often, but he has cut inside and put a great ball in,” said Hessenthaler.

“Gavin is exactly where we want him to be, to be the winger on the right-hand side that can be the extra striker on the far post. He took it well and I was pleased so I was happy.”

In addition to Simpson’s absence, Paul McCallum wasn’t at Whaddon Road either with Ollie Palmer and Jordan Bowery starting and Armand Gnanduillet on the bench.

Orient’s manager explained that the ex-West Ham United youngster is still not at the fitness levels they’d like.

But the experienced boss did suggest McCallum is getting close to be involved in the match day squad shortly.

Hessenthaler added: “I have been public about Paul and said he has been out for seven months with a cruciate and is a little bit behind.

“He missed some of the training in Italy where he had to pull out, but he’s getting there and playing again.

“Paul has got a couple of goals in midweek at Greenwich Borough and his fitness levels are going up.

“We have good strikers at the moment who are fit so it is only a matter of time for him if he keeps doing what he’s doing.”

With Simpson set to depart Brisbane Road, McCallum’s role at the club becomes even more significant.

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