Manager Graham Westley is expecting a tough test in East London this weekend as North End face Leyton Orient just days after losing two key players for a considerable period.
However, he says his side have a mentality that will relish the test. Speaking at his weekly press briefing the PNE chief said: “It is going to be a tough challenge. They are in a decent run of form and there are no easy points in this league. Their form is good, their players are strong, the manager is experienced – they are a tough outfit.
“I watched them play at MK Dons and they were very unfortunate not to bring a point back from there, having a late goal disallowed. They acquitted themselves very well to the task.
“They are a strong outfit and it is not an easy journey to make at all. We are going to have to be at a strong level and we are, of course, going to have to juggle ourselves around a bit to deal with the injuries that we have received this week. It is a tough task, but one that I am sure the squad will be relishing.”
The loss of Scott Laird, confirmed as being ruled for at least six months with a broken left tibia, is something the manager will have to cope with, however, having kept in regular contact with the full back since the injury, the manager says a plan is already being put in place for him during his rehabilitation.
“Lairdy is a resilient character,” continued the gaffer. “He always has a positive outlook. He knows that this a great opportunity for him to learn a lot about tactical side of the game, so that when physically he is right to come back, he comes back a better player. He can study and learn a lot about players who play in his position, the game as a whole and possibly start working on some coaching licences and develop his tactical understanding of the game.
“We are building a plan for him that should see this time very usefully used to improve him as a football and a person. He’s a strong character and I have spoken to him continuously in the last 24 to 36 hours and he is bearing up, as you would expect him too.
“You have to get the balance right between depressing the lad and helping him to recover! Sometimes lads are better off sat in the sun or enjoying things they wouldn’t normally get to do in the football season. He’s going to do some work for us in game and take up a role helping us to assess in games situations; so he will play a part that supports the team. He will stay involved and I know he is determined to make sure that when he comes back, he comes back a Championship player.”
Meanwhile it looks like fellow full back, Keith Keane, could be set a lengthy spell out as well: “We haven’t got the results of the scan, but the fact he is having a scan is probably an indication of the extent of the injury and I don’t expect to see him playing for some time,” confirmed the manager.