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Orient automatic hopes hang by a thread as they head to razor sharp Blades

Dean Cox smashes in Orient's equaliser against Sheffield United. Simon O'Connor Dean Cox smashes in Orient's equaliser against Sheffield United. Simon O'Connor

Friday, April 4, 2014
1:00 PM

Leyton Orient can ill afford anymore slip ups if they are to keep their slim automatic promotion chances alive.

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Tomorrow they travel to Sheffield United who might have one eye on next weekend’s FA Cup semi-final at Wembley.

Despite a run of one win in five League One games O’s manager Russell Slade looked at the positives to take from this season to date.

With six games to go Orient have clinched at least a play-off place but Slade is still gunning for more. The O’s trail Brentford, who have a game in hand, by five points.

“We as the staff take great pride in what the players have achieved so far this season,” he said.

“At the beginning of the journey our ambition was to go a little bit further than last year and finish in the top six.

“We’ve achieved that now with six games to go which is a monumental effort. Make no mistake, there’s still plenty to play for.”

United are the first third tier stage to reach the last four since Wycombe Wanderers in 2001 and Slade is glowing with praise for the work Nigel Clough has done since taking over as Blades manager.

They were near the relegation zone when he took over but as well as his FA Cup exploits United still have an outside chance of making the play-offs.

It is another chance for Slade to return to the club where he began his coaching career.

He said: “Nigel has done a remarkable job since he came in at Bramall Lane.

“I watched them on Tuesday and they got a very good point against Brentford. They still have a slim chance of making the play-offs this year and if the season was a bit longer then I think they would definitely be in the mix.

“What we have though is a wonderful away record. We’ve taken 40 points from 20 games on the road and we want to preserve that.

“Bramall Lane is a big place to go and I know it well having worked there but we enjoy the big occasion and have a good record at places like that so can approach it with confidence.”

The teams drew 1-1 at Brisbane Road in November. Conor Coady gave the Blades the lead but Cox earned Orient a point with a brilliant long range strike.

Romain Vincelot is available after serving a two-match suspension but he is a doubt for the Bramall Lane clash with a foot injury.

Marvin Bartley is out with his hamstraing problem and Shaun Batt came through an hour of a behind-closed-doors friendly with Dagenham & Redbridge unscathed.

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