Orient players ‘relaxed’ about Wembley
13:00 22 May 2014
PA Wire/Press Association Images
Clarke praises early visit to stadium
Orient skipper Nathan Clarke was full of praise for the decision to take the squad to Wembley five days before the League One play-off final.
Manager Russell Slade took his players down to the iconic national stadium of Tuesday so the occasion doesn’t overcome them on the “biggest games of their career.”
“It was a great idea,” the defender explained. “A lot of the players haven’t been there before so it helped relax and focus them.
“Now we’ll concentrate on the task at hand, which is a massive one.
“You have to treat it like any other game but it’s hard. It’s the biggest games of our career and it’s at Wembley.”
It will be a doubly special day for Clarke as he does something not many players get to do - lead their team out at Wembley.
Since the 30-year-old joined from Huddersfield Town two years he has been a key presence in Slade’s side.
And he called on his teammates to “grasp the opportunity” - having watched the Terriers clinch promotion at Wembley from the stands but also experiencing crushing play-off disappointment.
Clarke said: “I’m unbelievably proud. It’s a great honour, to walk a team out at Wembley and hopefully lead them to victory would be the pinnacle.
“You’ve got to grasp the opportunity. It’s a great way to get promoted. I’ve done it with Huddersfield and the joys are immense.
“I think it helped that we knew our fate with a few games to go. We could concentrate on preparing for the play-offs and I think that showed against Peterborough.”
Scores of family and friends will be travelling down from Yorkshire to support Clarke.
He has left the arrangements up to them as he tries to concentrate on the task in hand, but he’s not sure if his younger brother Tom will be at Wembley on Sunday.
Tom’s Preston North End side lost out in the play-off semi-final to Orient’s opponents Rotherham.
“I’m not sure if Tom will be there, but there’s a ticket for him if we wants it,” Clarke explained.
“I’ve been in his situation before and it’s not nice.
“He’s taken a few days off, he’s getting married this summer so he’ll be focused on that I expect.”