Leyton Orient have already exceeded expectations this season – can they do it one more time?

3 min

Sitting comfortably in the top half of League One with the Play-Offs still within their grasp, there’s no doubt this season is already a huge success for Leyton Orient.

The O’s have been competitive throughout and now need a maximum of just four points from their remaining seven games to mathematically guarantee their League One status next term.

To defy all the pre-season odds so comfortably is a phenomenal achievement for Richie Wellens’ side – especially considering it has been obtained with a paper thin squad and a raft of injuries to key players.

And with their latest win against fellow-promoted side Stevenage keeping them in the top six hunt, it begs the question: where could the O’s be with a fully fit squad? 

“We’d be first,” a brazen Leyton Orient boss Richie Wellens told London Football Scene.

We had a really, really poor start to the season – after four games, we had one point. After seven, we had four points and we were bottom of the league.

“Then, your mindset changes to ‘we need to stay up’. If we’d had our squad in place earlier in the season then we could have started the season better.”

READ MORE: Leyton Orient’s Nigel Travis on promotion, Richie Wellens, Idris El Mizouni and aiming for the Championship

A game in December against high-flying Bolton is thought by many as the instigator in Orient’s rise up the table, where, despite losing 3-2, the performance showed real signs of promise.

But it’s also hard to ignore the injuries the side has suffered – even the January arrivals of Brandon Cooper and Ollie O’Neill were unable to offset the damage of losing Jordan Graham at the end of October.

“That (Graham’s injury) came when we were on a good run and set us back,” reflected Wellens.

“We’ve got a good squad but if you ask any manager in this league and look at any team, if you suffer injuries, then it’s gonna have an effect.”

O’Neill’s arrival from Fulham has helped bolster Orient’s attacking threat with the 21-year-old scoring three goals in 11 appearances, helping support the fine goalscoring exploits of Ruel Sotiriou and Shaq Forde who have scored 20 in all competitions between them.

With just seven games remaining, the win at Stevenage ahead of the international break was crucial to keep the O’s faint Play-Off hopes alive after a run of disappointing results against Port Vale, Wigan Athletic and Bristol Rovers. 

READ MORE: Richie Wellens has found the right Leyton Orient formula after slow League One start

Orient’s next challenge will be at fellow Play-Off chasing Lincoln City before two home games against Peterborough (4th) and Cheltenham Town (21st).

From there, the run-in is relatively easy on paper with second-placed Derby the only side above the O’s in the table.

If Orient can remain in the chasing pack following the Easter weekend, they have a real chance to claim the final Play-Off place and perhaps then Wellens’ bold squad assessment won’t seem too far off after all…

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