The transfer window reopens tomorrow and given Orient’s injury problems, it is likely that Russell Slade will be looking to bolster his squad as he tries to keep the O’s on track for promotion to the Championship. Both the manager and the Chairman have suggested that the club will be active in January, however, they will be restricted by the 60% financial fair play rules. Here we look at the areas of the squad that need to be strengthened and we consider some potential targets:
Over the festive period it emerged that Jamie Jones had suffered a hairline fracture in his back which could keep him out of action for up to three months. In the two games since then, Jake Larkins has come into the side and performed well, however it is clear that Orient will need another senior goalkeeper in Jones’ absence.
One name that seemed like a good option is Lee Butcher. He was released by Orient at the end of last season due to his injury problems, but Butcher continued to train with the O’s while he searched for a new club. He initially joined Welling as cover for Sam Mott on a short term deal, but at the beginning of October, the 25 year-old stopper signed a new deal to keep him at the cub until the end of the season. He has played regularly, making 26 appearances so far this season and in recent weeks he has been in good form. This would suggest that Butcher has proven his fitness, however, he would now require a fee which could prove to be a stumbling block. If a fee could be agreed Butcher may be able to integrate into the side quickly given his familiarity with the club.
Another former goalkeeper that could be an option is Ryan Allsop. The 21 year-old Bournemouth stopper started the season as the first-choice goalkeeper at Dean Court, but he hasn’t played since the end of October due to the arrival of Lee Camp. Like Butcher, Allsop would be returning to familiar surroundings and a short term loan deal could be just what he needs to reclaim the number 1 shirt with the Cherries. However, Lee Camp’s loan deal is nearly up and he will become a free agent in the coming days. He is in talks with Bournemouth over a permanent deal, but an agreement is yet to be reached , therefore the club may not allow Allsop to go out on loan. Even if Camp does sign, they may still want to keep Allsop as back up.
Bournemouth could be more willing to allow Shwan Jalal to move. He has already been loaned out to Oxford United this season and is yet to feature for Bournemouth this term. He would bring League One experience having played regularly for Bournemouth at this level over the years, albeit not so often in recent seasons.
However, the player that has been most heavily linked with a move to Brisbane Road is Cardiff’s Simon Moore. The 23 year-old joined Cardiff from Brentford last summer, but he is yet to make an appearance for the Premier League side. First team opportunities at the Cardiff City Stadium are likely to be scarce with David Marshall and Joe Lewis ahead of Moore in the pecking order. Therefore a loan move could be ideal to showcase his ability and convince the incoming new manager that he deserves a chance. However, the fact that Malky Mackay’s successor is yet to be named may hinder outgoing transfers at this time and Orient need cover as soon as possible. Last season was something of a breakthrough year for Moore as he seized his opportunity while Richard Lee was injured and he quickly established himself as first-choice goalkeeper for the Bees.
As with the goalkeeping positions, the need for a striker is urgent due to injuries to Shaun Batt and David Mooney. Although Batt’s injury appears to be less severe than first feared, it is still likely to keep him out of action for the rest of the season, while David Mooney is still a couple of weeks away from a return after suffering fractures in his foot. Russell Slade may need further reinforcements if Robbie Simpson is not offered a new deal.
Arsenal youngster Chuba Akpom has been linked with a loan move to the O’s in the press this week. Brentford are believed to be very close to sealing the deal, but Orient are also reported to be interested along with League One rivals Peterborough and MK Dons. Akpom is highly-rated at Arsenal, having been included in the Gunners’ pre-season tour of Asia during which he scored three goals. He also played and scored against the O’s in the pre-season friendly at Brisbane Road last summer. Akpom made his senior debut for Arsenal as a late substitute against Sunderland back in September and he came off the bench in the League Cup victory over West Brom. With numerous clubs interested, Akpom’s destination could come down to the amount of playing time he will get. Brentford have a larger squad so opportunities may be limited at Griffin Park, but he could struggle for a starting spot at Orient once Mooney is fit again.
Paddy Madden has been on the transfer list since the end of November and he could provide a solution to Orient’s lack of attacking options. The 23 year-old had an incredible campaign last term that saw him end the season as League One top scorer with 23 goals. He then added another goal to his tally in the League One playoff final that saw Yeovil reach the Championship. However, he is yet to score this season and he has made just six starts for the Glovers. Madden is clearly capable of scoring goals at League One level, but Gary Johnson revealed that he was dropped due to attitude problems, and Russell Slade will be wary of disrupting the harmony within the Orient squad. Slade also departed as Glover’s manager under a cloud of allegations of gross misconduct; therefore this could prevent a deal being agreed; though the matter was eventually settled.
A goalkeeper and a striker are priority positions for Russell Slade, but there are other areas where the squad could do with strengthening.
The Orient boss obviously feels the need to add cover for Lloyd James as he has already brought in Frankie Sutherland and Josh Wright on short loan deals. Therefore, it would not be surprising if a creative midfielder was acquired in January.
Russell Slade may also need to recruit a more defensive midfielder during the transfer window. Marvin Bartley currently provides back-up for Romain Vincelot, but the Burnley midfielder’s loan expires soon. Should he return to his parent club, he would need to be replaced.
While perhaps not as urgent as other positions, an additional defender to offer cover would be useful. At the start of the season the manager stated that he was satisfied with his defensive options, but there have been times when injuries and suspensions have dictated that full backs have had to play at centre back. Furthermore, Odubajo has proven to be far more effective as a winger rather than a full back. Although he provides cover for that position, Orient do tend to lose something going forward if Moses is moved further back.
A player who could cover both sides of defence would be useful. Leon McSweeney’s contract with Carlisle expires at the start of January and he has been told it will not be renewed. Russell Slade suggested that he would have liked to have kept McSweeney at the end of last term, but the club could not afford to offer him a new contract. After being without a club at the start of the season, McSweeney may now be willing to accept lower terms, though he may not be willing to sit on the bench again. McSweeney would also be able to play in the wide midfield positions if required.
Alternatively, a defender who could cover in the middle of defence along with a full back position would be welcome. Former Orient loanee Jordan Spence recently had a short loan spell with MK Dons, therefore he could be a viable target. He is able to operate at right back as well as the centre of defence. However, the relationship between West Ham and Leyton Orient may not be conducive to transfer deals between the two.
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