Paul McCallum keen to make sure Leyton Orient's future is bright
PUBLISHED: 12:00 22 February 2017
Simon O'Connor Photography
23-year-old full of praise for teenagers currently impressing under Danny Webb
Paul McCallum is confident Leyton Orient will still be in the Football League next season and believes the youngsters will end up much better players after the experience of battling relegation this campaign.
The O’s finished Saturday’s game against Notts County with three current academy players plus two recent graduates and, despite losing 3-2, they produced a battling display.
A draw would have been a fair result, but Orient came away empty-handed and are now three points from safety, but their top goalscorer is not losing faith.
“I believe we will stay up, so the future for next year is looking good because the youngsters would have survived a relegation scrap and played a major part in it, so this will hopefully do them a world of good,” said McCallum.
“We don’t think we are going to go down. We feel we are good enough to stay up and we will be in this league next season.”
If Orient do beat the drop, it will be a fine achievement by boss Danny Webb and a lot of credit will go to the young players as well as the senior members left at Brisbane Road.
McCallum, 23, is now one of the most experienced in the current set-up and was captain on Saturday with Nicky Hunt and Liam Kelly serving suspensions.
Orient demonstrated more fight against the Magpies to come from two goals down to level, but conceded a third in the 84th minute to lose and remain in the relegation zone.
After working so hard to get back into the match, it was a bitter pill to swallow, but the O’s fans applauded their players off at the end.
Earlier in the campaign you heard boos from the home supporters more than anything else at Brisbane Road because heads would drop as soon as Orient found themselves behind.
Webb has managed to change that and the addition of several teenagers has increased the desire and effort on the pitch, with the senior players stepping up recently too.
The importance of McCallum has increased as well with most of his forward partners under the age of 20 or vastly inexperienced in the Football League, like Rowan Liburd.
Sam Dalby, 17, was alongside the former West Ham United striker after 10 minutes on Saturday and battled valiantly against former Wales international Richard Duffy.
McCallum said: “Sam played very well at the weekend and on his debut too when he scored against Crawley Town on Boxing Day. I was really happy for him to get that goal.
“We have Josh (Koroma) on the wing and it’s important for our young players to step up and show their worth.
“The gaffer believes in them and we senior players believe they are good enough to play. Sam proved that again on Saturday.”
Orient’s average age last weekend was 21, with Michael Collins, 30, the oldest on the pitch for O’s and the absence of Hunt and Kelly was felt.
Neither are available to face Cheltenham Town this Saturday, so it is down to McCallum and his team-mates to try and help the academy players through again.
He added: “The roles of the senior players have changed a bit because we have four or five youngsters in the team, so we’ve got to guide them.
“We need to help them out during the game as much as we can because they are in a relegation scrap and I don’t think that is fair on them, but they are showing their worth and Myles Judd has been phenomenal, so age is only a number.”