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PREVIEW: Nolan - 'It is a fantastic opportunity for us'

11 March 2016

Player-manager on tomorrow's trip to Oxford United

O’s player-manager Kevin Nolan believes tomorrow’s encounter is a chance for his side to prove they belong in the Play-Off places.

Orient head to Oxford just outside the top-seven on goal difference, and while losing out last week at home to Luton, have an unbeaten away record since Nolan took charge  in January.

“We have a fantastic away record since I came in and that is something we have to try and build on,” Nolan told leytonorient.com.

“Away from home we have stuck to our guns really well to get the wins and the draw. It is another record we are looking to keep intact for the rest of the season. It is a test to prove that we belong at the top end of the league.”

They come up against an Oxford side in the automatic promotion spots going into the fixture, and Nolan has high praise for his opposite number – Michael Appleton.

“It is fantastic what Michael Appleton has done and I have huge respect for him,” he added.

“He is a good lad who I have come up against a number of times in my career and I think he has taken to management very well.

“I am expecting a very good football game tomorrow and I am hoping we come out on top but it is a fantastic opportunity for us.

“We had Northampton at our place a couple of weeks back and we saw how good and efficient they were and I think you will see the same with this side on Saturday. Their success in the JPT as well just shows how strong this league is and I wish them the best for that game.”

The O’s player-manager added Palace goalkeeper David Gregory to his squad with the news of Charlie Grainger’s hand injury, while defender Shaun Brisley remains a major doubt after picking up a head injury last weekend.

However, other than that, Nolan is pleased with the options he has available to him going into the game, including the possible return of midfielder Lloyd James.

“It is unfortunate for Charlie and he’s a good lad. He has gone in for his operation today so hopefully by the weekend we will know everything has gone really well and get him back on the pitch as soon as possible,” he remarked.

“Shaun took a nasty blow last weekend but he is a tough northern lad and has worked hard this week.

“Hopefully he will be available for selection but we won’t know until the last minute and at this moment in time I have been delighted with his recovery and he has done a lot of work away from the first team, but we will see come tomorrow if he can play any part.”

“Injury wise we are looking good and everyone is fit. We have got Lloyd James who has joined us for the last two weeks and he will be in and around the squad this weekend.

“We are hoping to get some development squad games sorted for the next couple of weeks so it will give those lads that are just on the periphery a chance to get some minutes.

“There are a lot of big games coming up and everyone has got to be ready, which they are, and that makes it much more difficult to pick an XI week in, week out.”

Click here for the match preview to tomorrow's encounter, and also listen to the thoughts of midfielder Jobi McAnuff on the trip to Oxford United.

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