Key men are doubts as leaders Leyton Orient come to town for crunch Cobblers clash

O’s boss Richie Wellens frustrated by tight schedule
Both Jack Sowerby and Paul Smyth could miss Monday's fixture.Both Jack Sowerby and Paul Smyth could miss Monday's fixture.
Both Jack Sowerby and Paul Smyth could miss Monday's fixture.

Leyton Orient are sweating on the fitness of key attacker Paul Smyth ahead of Monday’s visit to Sixfields where third takes on first in Sky Bet League Two.

With nine goals to his name, including several spectacular strikes, Smyth has arguably been the division’s standout player so far this season, but he was taken off against Stevenage last week and then remained an unused substitute during Friday’s 0-0 draw at Newport.

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"Paul pulled his quad in the warm-up,” said Orient boss Richie Wellens, whose side have one less day to prepare for Monday’s game. “We brought him off against Stevenage the other day because his groin was tight. We need to manage players and Paul has a history of problems.

"I think he’s one of the best players in the league so obviously I would have brought him on (against Newport) but we need to be careful. We just told him to get strapped up and make sure he’s ready for his scan tomorrow (Saturday). We’ll have to wait for the scan but with Paul, as soon as he feels anything, we stop him.

"It’s more difficult for us because we have one day less and it’s a quicker turnaround. We have three games in six days so it’s tough and we need to make sure everyone is fit.

"I watched Northampton’s game against Swindon and they more or less picked their strongest team and we rested one or two. We need to utilise the squad.”

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As for the Cobblers, Ali Koiki is definitely out and Jack Sowerby could again be absent as he continues to struggle with illness. The midfielder returned from sickness to come on as a late substitute at Mansfield on Boxing Day but then missed the defeat to Swindon.