Now that Leyton Orient have had their League One status confirmed for another season, Russell Slade will now have to turn his attention to rebuilding his squad and this summer is set to be a busy one for the O’s boss with 11 players set to be out of contract at the end of this season, leaving only ten players under contract for next year. Here is what I think will happen over the coming weeks:
Syam Ben Youssef – Contract Expires: June 2012
Syam Ben Youssef is out of contract at the end of this season and given the fact that he has struggled to get in the side despite a lack of defensive options suggests that Russell Slade does not rate him very highly. Ben Youssef has only managed seven appearances so far this season, with Forbes, Leacock, Cuthbert and McSweeney all preferred at right-back. However, the Tunisian defender is only 23 and when he has played this season he has impressed. I think Russell Slade will let Ben Youssef go, but he would be a good option to have in the squad and given an extended run in the side, he could really make the right-back role his own.
Mike Cestor – Contract Expires: June 2012
Mike Cestor has only made two appearances for the club this season despite a lack of options at full back this season. The 19-year-old defender has had three loan spells at Woking this term. This suggests that he is not deemed to be good enough for first team football with Leyton Orient, therefore it seems unlikely that he will be offered a new deal with the club.
Jamie Cureton – Contract Expires: June 2012
After an amazing goalscoring record last season, everything went wrong for Jamie Cureton at Brisbane Road. With only one goal in 23 appearances for the O’s, Cureton was loaned back to Exeter in January where he has only managed one goal in seven. Cureton’s contract is due to expire at the end of the season and he has almost certainly played his last game for Orient.
Terrell Forbes – Contract Expires: June 2012
Terrell Forbes has had a difficult season as his performances have suffered due to being played out of position. A shortage of full backs at the club this season has meant Forbes has had to fill in at right back, and he has never really looked comfortable in the role. However, he has done ok when played at centre back, forming Orient’s best defensive partnership with Scott Cuthbert earlier in the season. Orient’s defensive frailty this term may mean that Russell Slade looks to build a new back four around Cuthbert, but Forbes could be offered a new deal even if he is used as backup. Forbes does have a history with the manager, having played under him at both Grimsby and Yeovil and I think he will extend his stay with the club.
Dean Leacock – Contract Expires: June 2012
Dean Leacock has made fourteen appearances for Orient so far this season since joining from Derby County on a free transfer in January. The 27-year-old defender made a good start to his Orient career, however, more recently his performances have not been up to the same standard and the team have struggled defensively. The decision over whether to keep him may come down to a question of value for money. Coming from a Championship club, Leacock’s wages are likely to take up a significant amount of the budget. From the player’s perspective, he may have been looking to use his time with Orient to put himself in the shop window and attract interest from clubs at a higher level and therefore he may not want to renew his contract.
Tom Lovelock – Contract Expires: June 2012
Tom Lovelock has been on the bench this season as Orient suffered a goalkeeping crisis but it is unlikely that Lovelock will be with the club next season, with Butcher and Jones a long way ahead of him.
Moses Odubajo – Contract Expires: June 2012
Moses Odubajo has made 4 appearances for Orient this season and he has had loan spells with Sutton and Bishop’s Stortford. Odubajo has shown glimpses of his ability in his limited number of appearances, but I don’t think it will be enough to secure a new deal.
George Porter – Contract Expires: June 2012
This year has been something of a breakthrough season for George Porter, he has made 37 appearances so far. Porter has had more opportunities this season than last (although some would say that Porter should have been used more) and he has shown the ability to make a difference from the bench, but he has also shown he can contribute as a starter, with Oldham away being the prime example. The young winger has progressed this season he is still raw and he could do with more first team experience, something he is more likely to get with Orient than teams at a higher level. However, Porter will probably believe that he should have featured more this term and the lure of a bigger club may prove too much to resist. However, should he sign a new contract, he may well develop into an important player for the O’s as he offers pace, an attribute currently lacking in the squad.
Jamie Smith – Contract Expires: June 2012
Since joining the club in March, Jamie Smith has made only one substitute appearance, against Exeter. This signing was strange, as Orient had cover in central midfield positions and other areas needed strengthening. Reed, Laird, Leacock and Taiwo have all played in central midfield ahead of Jamie Smith and this suggests that he may not be offered a new contract, however, at only 22, he may be seen as one for the future.
Matthew Spring – Contract Expires: June 2012
Matthew Spring was handed the captain’s armband after the departure of Stephen Dawson, which shows how highly Spring is valued by Russell Slade. Although Spring does not display the same leadership qualities as Dawson, Spring does not hide during games and he is an important part of the way that Russell Slade wants to play. Therefore, it would be surprising if Spring leaves in the summer.
Jonathan Tehoue – Contract Expires: June 2012
Jonathan Tehoue has had an amazing record of scoring from the bench for the O’s, however it is questionable whether he has ever been fully fit during his time at Brisbane Road. As a result, Tehoue has been a luxury that Orient can ill-afford, especially if the rumours about his high wages are to be believed. The loan to Swindon at the beginning of March signalled the end of his Orient career as he was less than complementary towards Russell Slade. However, he failed to see eye to eye with his new manager as well, and Paolo Di Canio publically criticised Tehoue’s work ethic and ability and made it clear that he would not feature for Swindon. It is difficult to see where Tehoue’s career will go from here, but he will always be remembered by Orient fans for that goal against Arsenal.
Lee Butcher – Contract Expires: June 2013
Lee Butcher is another success story of an otherwise poor season. Butcher grasped his opportunity when Orient were hit by a goalkeeping crisis and grew into the role to become a credible first teamer, before suffering an injury which cut his season short. The erratic performances of his replacement Paul Rachubka further highlighted what a good job Butcher had done in goal and Lee is now in a good position to put pressure on Jamie Jones for a first team place.
Ben Chorley – Contract Expires: June 2013
Ben Chorley joined Orient in the summer of 2009 and won player of the year in his first season. Last season Chorley formed a solid partnership with Terrell Forbes but he suffered injury towards the end of last year’s campaign. Since then his performances have not been the same, and Orient looked better without him during the period before Christmas when he was injured. There have also been rumours of his disruptive influence in the dressing room after his interview in the matchday programme, which if true, could count against him. He has also frustrated many fans with his tendency to openly criticise teammates on the pitch. Orient have been weak defensively this season and Russell may be tempted to start again. Chorley has been a good player for the club but it could be time for him to move on (although a year left on his contract may make that difficult). There may still be a future for Chorley at Brisbane Road, perhaps as a third choice centre-back and Ben could be a very good back-up option to have.
Scott Cuthbert – Contract Expires: June 2013
Scott Cuthbert has been one of the few highlights of a poor season and, like Chorley before him, the former Swindon defender should win the player of the year award in his first season. The problem will be preventing other clubs from snapping up the former Celtic trainee. He may want the chance to play at a higher level and like Dawson and Daniels this season, Orient may decide to cash in on the defender rather than let him leave for free next year.
Marc Laird – Contract Expires: June 2013
Marc Laird is another one of Russell Slade’s signings that has not gone to plan this season. Like McSweeney, Laird did not settle into the team during the early part of the season, but he has shown improvement as the season has progressed. Russell Slade seems to have lost faith in him, opting to give Taiwo a place on the bench ahead of him. It would not surprise me if Laird was moved on during the summer; however, I think it is more likely that he will still be at the club next season with a loan move being a possibility.
Kevin Lisbie – Contract Expires: June 2013
Kevin Lisbie has done well since signing in September and he extended his contract until the end of next season. As Orient’s top scorer with 12 goals, Lisbie has made an important contribution, the O’s would be in real trouble without his goals. He is the best striker at the club and he has earned his place for next season. At the age of 33, it remains to be seen whether Lisbie will extend his Orient career beyond next season.
Leon McSweeney – Contract Expires: June 2013
Leon McSweeney has had a season of ups and downs. He found it difficult to settle into the side early in the season. However, McSweeney then stepped into the right-back role after the departure of Elliot Omozusi, and the Irishman performed much better and he looked comfortable in the position. In the New Year, McSweeney suffered injuries and he has yet to rediscover his form. McSweeney could be an option at right-back but Russell Slade will probably want to bring in a natural right-back, however, his versatility makes him a good squad member.
David Mooney – Contract Expires: June 2013
David Mooney has not had a great season, many of his performances have been frustrating. Despite this, he has contributed 8 goals this season, making him Orient’s joint-second top scorer with Dean Cox. Given that his contract has another year to run it seems likely that he will remain with the club, although he may find himself lower down the pecking order as Russell Slade should look to improve upon his current striking options. Mooney could well leave club if the right offer is made.
Jimmy Smith – Contract Expires: June 2013
Jimmy Smith is under contract for another year and it is very likely that he will be with the club until the end of next season. He is often criticised for not getting involved in games enough, however he has played some of his best football under Russell Slade, becoming an fixture in Orient’s midfield. His biggest asset is his goal-scoring record; last season he scored 9 goals in 42 appearances and this season he has contributed 7 goals in 42 games.
Jamie Jones – Contract Expires: June 2014
Obviously Jones will be kept at the club unless a substantial offer is made, and rightly so. Jones has recently returned after a long spell on the sidelines and although he has not managed to plug Orient’s leaky back-line, he is still young and he has plenty of time to develop. Before his injury last season Jones was unquestionably Orient’s number one and while this is still the case, Butcher will provide greater competition in the future.
Dean Cox – Contract Expires: June 2015
Dean Cox showed great commitment to the club by signing a three-and-a-half year deal at the end of January. Cox will stay at Brisbane Road unless there is a serious offer for him, but there will be less interest in him as he has not managed to hit the heights of last season. Despite this dip in form, Cox has scored eight goals this season; a good haul for a midfielder in a side that has struggled for goals. He remains one of Orient’s key players.