Leyton Orient v Gillingham – Breyer Group Stadium – Saturday 1pm – Preview
PETER KITCHEN has kept a watchful eye over Leyton Orient’s pre-season preparations and believes we’ll have a clearer idea of how close to complete they are when Sky Bet League One outfit, Gillingham, are the visitors for the O’s final warm-up match on Saturday.
Orient have beaten teams from Reading and Tottenham Hotspur but slipped against Northampton Town and a West ham United side as Ross Embleton has ensured his players have got plenty of minutes in the tank ahead of their first competitive fixture, a Carabao Cup first-round tie at Forest Green Rovers on September 5, Nevertheless, Kitch insisted the Gills will offer the toughest examination so far as the fine-tuning reaches its final stages.
“Steve Evans’ teams aren’t generally known for their finesse – this will be a tough workout,” the former O’s frontman told Yellow Sport.
“I think it has been a positive pre-season. There is a mood of cautious optimism around the club, despite the difficulties facing most football clubs as a consequence of the pandemic.
“The fans have responded magnificently over the summer months to several initiatives introduced to generate income and drive season ticket sales. Meanwhile, there has been a phenomenal uptake of the new kits, sponsored by England captain Harry Kane.”
Kitchen continued: “On the pitch, Ross has had several extra months to plan and prepare for the new season.
“We have made the signing of Ouse Cisse permanent, whilst also convincing goalscoring prospect Ruel Sotiriou to sign a new two-year deal.
“The extra time has also enabled James Dayton, Jamie Turley and Jobi McAnuff to regain their full fitness. With two players for every position, there should be adequate cover within the squad to cope with any troublesome injuries.
“As ever, there has been chopping and changing throughout the pre-season matches. This is all a part of the process. Importantly, Ross should now have identified his preferred choice of players and how he is going to deploy them, get the mix right as well as harnessing the positivity and turning it into confidence and belief.
“Although in the great scheme of things a pre-season friendly result is of little importance, the players need to be ready to fly out of the traps when the real games get underway. It is vital that they make a decent start and don’t find themselves chasing games early in the season. “