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O's skipper is ready for the challenge

PUBLISHED: 16:45 05 August 2009 | UPDATED: 14:40 05 October 2010

By Trevor Davies ORIENT skipper Stephen Purches insists that the League One season will hold no fears for the side, despite the fact they will be mixing it with some big clubs. With Charlton Athletic, Southampton and Norwich being relegated from the Champ

By Trevor Davies

ORIENT skipper Stephen Purches insists that the League One season will hold no fears for the side, despite the fact they will be mixing it with some big clubs.

With Charlton Athletic, Southampton and Norwich being relegated from the Championship and teams like Leeds United, Millwall and MK Dons missing out on promotion, League One will be a tougher division than ever to get out of.

Purches, who won the fans over with a series of consistent displays at full back last season, said: "It's a tough league that's for sure. In the nine years I will have played at this level, the league is the strongest it has ever been.

"There are some big teams in there, but you have to remember they are in there for a reason, and we should not fear them.

"They are just names at the moment. Just because there are some big clubs in there with us, they have no divine right to be successful. Whoever is consistent will do well.

"We have got to try and learn from last season, build on it, and see where it takes us."

With Brentford, Gillingham and Wycombe winning promotion from League Two and Brighton and Huddersfield Town splashing the cash, Purches knows the O's will not have an easy ride, but he can't wait for Saturday's opener at Bristol Rovers.

"After pre-season, you just want to get going. Everything has been geared to Saturday and we all can't wait to get underway," he said.

Two seasons ago, Orient made a super start and topped the table for a spell, so Purches knows it's important to begin with a bang.

"Of course we want to hit the ground running, but then so does every team in the league," he said.

"All the teams will be sitting in the dressing room on Saturday afternoon raring to go and will want to start with a win.

"Everyone's been working hard for the last six weeks and wants to win the opening game.

"But we will go to Bristol Rovers and be looking for a positive result. Our target is to go into the season and try and improve on what went before."

O's finished 14th last season, despite flirting with relegation in mid-season and Purches said: "We finished last season well and we will be doing all we can to build on that. The manager has brought in some experienced lads and some younger ones too and I believe we have a good balance.

"Everything is set and we want to be successful," added Purches, as pre-season friendly games became a thing of the past, following last weekend's defeat at Dagenham & Redbridge.

"We have had a lot of double sessions and the friendlies have been coming thick and fast, but this week is more like a normal week," he said.

"I think that pre-season went well. It's never the case that you are going to win every game. But the object of the exercise is to try and learn and get as fit as possible.

"It's important to get the basics right in pre-season and work on set-pieces.

"We have a good base level of fitness and that should set us in good stead for the season ahead."

Purches was happy how pre-season has gone, and was especially delighted with the recent 6-1 home success against Newcastle United .

"That was the highlight, and it was not the sort of result we were really expecting," he said.

"But the game went well for us and it gave everyone a big confidence boost. The players were all delighted when the game was arranged, as it's nice to get a home game in, and it gave the new lads some valuable experience of playing at Orient.

"Then we lost at Ebbsfleet and St Albans, but they were good tests and we know there are lessons to be learned. It's all about getting pitch-time for the whole of the squad and to get us as a group making the right decisions. But Saturday at Bristol Rovers, it starts for real and we really can't wait.


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