Orient boss short of defensive options for relegation battle

16:59 19 April 2012

Orient boss Russell Slade has defensive problems ahead of Saturday

Orient boss Russell Slade has defensive problems ahead of Saturday's game

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Leacock and McSweeney fighting to be fit

Orient manager Russell Slade has some tough defensive decisions to make ahead of Saturday’s relegation scrap against Yeovil Town.

Slade will be without on-loan defender Ryan Dickson who is starting a four-game ban, which will keep him out for the rest of the season.

With no other recognised left-back at the club Slade’s options are limited as Leon McSweeney and Dean Leacock, who have played there on an emergency basis before, are struggling to be fit.

Slade has already fielded 10 different players at left back this season and said: “The way things are going we could end the season having 11 who have played there.”

Slade is likely to leave selection until the last minute and admitted: “Dean Leacock is a doubt at the moment. He has an infected toe and we are waiting for it to settle down.”

However there is an outside chance McSweeney, who has missed the last six games with a calf injury, could make a surprise return.

“He is back in light training, but Saturday’s game could come too soon,” said Slade. “It may be that he will be available for the last two matches.”

However, Jamal Campbell-Ryce comes into contention for a start and there is also an outside chance that Jimmy Smith could be available despite undergoing recent surgery.

“Jimmy had an operation following the kick he suffered on his face against Notts County on Good Friday, but he may be able to play in a mask,” said Slade

“It might take a little while for Jimmy to get used to it and it won’t be easy, so we will have to see how it goes.”

As Slade prepares to reshuffle his defence again, he admits he has never known a season like it.

“Ask any manager and the one thing you want is a settled back four and goalkeeper and we have had everything but this season,” said Slade.

“We have used six different goalkeepers and 10 different left-backs.

“Ben Chorley was out for 16 games during the season, Terrell Forbes missed the start of the season and Scott Cuthbert has missed the last 25 per cent of the season.

“It’s been an absolute nightmare.”

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