In our sit-down interview, the second-year scholar talks honestly about his footballing journey, his injury setbacks and his desire to go out on loan to further his development.
In terms of producing Football League talent, Leyton Orient is no stranger to providing opportunities for young footballers to go and forge a career in the game. While the likes of Dan Happe and Ruel Sotiriou have cemented their places in the first team, 18-year-old Finlay Lovatt is looking to follow in their footsteps.
Although the likes of Arsenal and Tottenham were casting an eye over an eight-year-old Lovatt, the up-and-coming forward opted to join Orient’s under-9’s side to kickstart his academy journey.
Lovatt has spent the majority of his footballing education in E10 but captured the attention of Premier League scouts back in 2018.
“At under-16s, I got scouted for Watford and I went on trial there for two months,” Lovatt shares. “I had quite a good spell there but didn’t actually get in, but I came back to Orient and that was when I was offered my scholarship.
“Now, I’ve been here for the past year and a half, I’m just trying to work hard and develop as a player to hopefully get a professional contract at the end of it.”
Under-18s co-manager Brian Saah also noted Lovatt’s impressive ability.
“Finlay is an intelligent football player who enjoys scoring and creating goals. He is technically good and has clever movement to find space and link the play.”
Nevertheless, despite his obvious talent and desire to achieve, the road to success hasn’t been entirely straight forward for the 18-year-old.
“Since June this year, I’ve suffered three ankle injuries,” Lovatt admits. The 18-year-old sustained his first injury during lockdown, as Lovatt unfortunately damaged his ankle while putting in the extra hours.
The side-lined forward was out for a month and a half and after returning from injury, the young Orient man hobbled back to the treatment table just days later. After recovering from his second injury, he managed to put together a run of injury-free performances before damaging his opposite ankle at Northampton away.
In recent times, injury setbacks have been somewhat of an issue for the Orient striker and luck certainly hasn’t been on his side. Nevertheless, with his injuries now in the rear-view mirror, Brian Saah tells the Leyton Orient website the importance of Lovatt’s next steps, with the view of hopefully sending the 18-year-old on loan.
“Once he has a run of consistently playing games injury-free, the next stage in his development will be to go out on loan,” Saah explained. “This will be to see how he adapts to men’s football and learns different aspects of the game which he wouldn’t have been exposed to before.”
“That’s the next goal,” Finlay says about a potential loan move. “In men’s football, it’s a chance to showcase that you can get a professional deal, as men’s football is so important to get a taste of what it would actually be like.”
Lovatt continues by giving an honest account of himself: “Especially for someone like me, who might not be physically ready in their eyes, you can showcase that you can cope with it. This also might give them a different viewpoint of how you can deal with moving into first-team football.”
The under-18s are next in action against Stevenage on Saturday, as Alex Lawless and Brian Saah’s side will look to build on the momentum from their recent draw against league-leaders Luton Town.
Although it will be a quick turnaround for the Orient youth side, as they begin their FA Youth Cup journey just two days later. On Monday 2nd November, the O’s will welcome Woking’s youth side to the Breyer Group Stadium, with the game being streamed live on Leyton Orient’s YouTube channel.
“We’re all ready for it. We’ve been working hard in training and it’s what is on everybody’s mind to be honest,” Lovatt shares.
“It means a lot (playing at the Breyer Group Stadium) because that’s where I want to be playing week in, week out. So, it’ll give me a good taste of what it’s like playing there and it’ll just be a great experience.”