Purches: “We look to have a good mix”

ORIENT skipper Stephen Purches believes that a blend of youthful exuberance and experience will be the perfect mix for the club to spring a few surprises next season. The bookmakers have already written Orient off and new signings have been sparse during

ORIENT skipper Stephen Purches believes that a blend of youthful exuberance and experience will be the perfect mix for the club to spring a few surprises next season.

The bookmakers have already written Orient off and new signings have been sparse during the summer, writes TREVOR DAVIES.

But, as Purches prepared to report back for pre-season training this week, he said: "Every year the bookmakers write us off, but we will just have to prove them wrong again.

Young squad

"When you looked around at the end- of-season presentations, it seemed as if we had a very young squad.

"But, although there have not been too many new signings, the manager knows what he wants and has gone for experience, and I think we can have a good season.

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"Obviously, we know all about Scott McGleish from last year, and he will give us a presence up front.

"I don't know Ben Chorley, but I've played against him in the past and he will give us more experience at the back and Tranmere had an impressive defensive record last season."

But Purches believes it's the signing of striker Adrian Patulea that could spark a few surprises at Brisbane Road.

The Romanian, who scored 11 goals in 17 starts at Sincil Bank, intrigues the O's skipper.

"I don't know Adrian, but I still know a lot of the lads at Bournemouth and they played against him last season and thought he was a really decent player," he said.

"I'm sure not many of our supporters know too much about him but, according to the Bournemouth boys, he could be a real dark horse, and plays a similar way to Simon Church.

"It's no surprise that everyone has written us off again, but that won't worry the players, and it will just act as a spur.

"I think we have got a good mix with some experienced players and some youngsters and I'm sure we will surprise a few people."

The capture of Patulea last week saw O's boss Geraint Williams take his squad up to 17 and although the players reported back for pre-season yesterday, there will almost certainly be another two or three arrivals before the season starts.

But, with the economic downturn, Purches believes that clubs will be forced to operate with small squads this season.

"The manager has gone for quality during the summer and clubs have to be very selective about who they bring in, because of tight budgets," he said.

"We're starting back for pre-season training and there are still masses of players who are still looking for a club.

"Like last year, I think that loan signings will play a big part in our season."

After an impressive campaign last year, Purches is looking forward to the new season and was not surprised by the current heatwave.

"It's always the way. It's a rule, whenever we start pre-season training the temperature has to be near 100 degrees," he smiled.

"But it's been a good break and we've all had a chance to recharge our batteries and examine what we did last season and look to see how we can improve.

"When the fixtures came out a couple of weeks ago, you know that it's almost time for pre-season training and it gives you a buzz."

It was a busy break for the O's skipper, who took the first part of his Uefa A coaching badge.

"Coaching is not an easy job and it's something that interests me, and I really enjoyed it," admitted the O's skipper.

With O's midfielder Jason Demetriou spending part of the summer on international duty with Cyprus, life has been hectic for some of the players during the break.


But things are going to get even more hectic now, as the O's report back for training.

"Although it can be a slog, it's always an exciting time, as you look to see when you're playing certain teams and there are some exciting matches for us this season, that's for sure," said Purches.

"We might not start with a glamour game at home, but I'll be looking forward to going to Bristol Rovers on the opening day.

"I made my League debut for Bournemouth at Bristol Rovers and they had a decent season last year and will be looking to make a good start.

"It's a tough game, but I'm sure we can go there and get a result."

The O's are on the road for their first two games of the season, as after their League One opener at Bristol Rovers, they head to Essex rivals Colchester for a Carling Cup clash against Williams' former side Colchester United.

"I don't think we ever get a home draw in the competition," smiled Purches.

"But it's a good one for the fans, and I'm sure the manager will be looking forward to it. I don't think he was expecting to go back to Colchester so soon!"

But, before then, the O's have a whole host of friendly games to negotiate first, starting with a trip to Billericay in a couple of weeks time.

The entire pre-season campaign is away from home and there is no mouthwatering clash against Spurs this season, which has been the highlight of the build-up for the last couple of years.

"It's a shame that there is not a match against a really big side," said Purches.

"It gives the fans something to look forward too.

"But pre-season is all about getting games under your belt wherever they are.

The only Football League opposition for the O's during their pre-season build-up is a trip to near neighbours Dagenham & Redbridge on Saturday, August 1, a week before the new season.