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Sam Ling’s game has really come on this season, says Leyton Orient team-mate Joe Widdowson

PUBLISHED: 15:00 19 February 2018

Sam Ling in action for Dagenham & Redbridge (pic: David Simpson/TGS Photo).

Sam Ling in action for Dagenham & Redbridge (pic: David Simpson/TGS Photo).

©TGS Photo tgsphoto.co.uk +44 1376 553468

Joe Widdowson, who spent time with Sam Ling at Dagenham, was full of praise for the youngster after linking up with him again at Brisbane Road

Joe Widdowson clears the ball forward for Leyton Orient against Sutton United (pic: Simon O'Connor). Joe Widdowson clears the ball forward for Leyton Orient against Sutton United (pic: Simon O'Connor).

Sam Ling has yet to make his competitive debut for Leyton Orient, but team-mate Joe Widdowson has already been impressed with the defender since he signed from local rivals Dagenham & Redbridge earlier this month.

The right-back returned to the O’s on February 7 for an undisclosed fee, agreeing a two-and-a-half year contract.

Ling had progressed through the academy at Brisbane Road before departing the club in the summer of 2016 where he went on to earn a deal with Daggers after impressing on trial.

Widdowson was part of the Dagenham squad under John Still at the time and so worked with the youngster during the 2016/17 campaign.

Although Ling didn’t feature on too many occasions last season, he had established himself as a regular at Daggers this time around and made 40 appearances for the Victoria Road club, scoring on three occasions before rejoining Orient.

“I’ve definitely been impressed with his development,” said Widdowson, when asked about O’s new right-back.

“Obviously I know ‘Lingy’ from before and he didn’t get too many games last season, but from playing against him during this campaign, I can tell his game has really come on.

“I think he’s more confident. He’s fitter and stronger now and by all accounts he did really well for Dagenham, so he has come in and shown already he’s a good footballer like we all know anyway.

“He has settled in really well and I know he is familiar with a few of the other boys when he was here before so it has been quite easy for him to settle in.”

Sam Ling (left) has departed Dagenham & Redbridge to rejoin Leyton Orient (pic: David Simpson/TGS Photo) Sam Ling (left) has departed Dagenham & Redbridge to rejoin Leyton Orient (pic: David Simpson/TGS Photo)

Ling progressed through the Orient academy at a time when the youth-team was just beginning to thrive and produce several first-teamers.

In the current O’s squad, Charlie Grainger, Sam Sargeant, Myles Judd, Aron Pollock, Michael Clark, Henry Ochieng, Josh Koroma, Dan Happe, Ruel Sotiriou and Charley Barker have all either earned professional contracts or are on third-year scholar deals.

Nearly all of them would have played with Ling or been part of the age group after him and it again highlights the great work by the academy at Brisbane Road.

Before rejoining Orient, Ling had been watched by several League Two clubs and left-back Widdowson is confident the versatile defender will play higher than that in good time.

He added: “There’s absolutely no doubt he can play in the Football League, 100 per cent. I think he would be comfortable in League Two or League One, but obviously he is still young and he needs to get games.

“He had games at Dagenham and needs to continue developing, but I am sure he will definitely play in the Football League at some point.

“I do hope it is with Orient because I know it is a club close to his heart and I am sure he would like it to be with us.”

The O’s also signed Nathan Mavila last week from Wingate & Finchley and it saw him make an Orient return.

Mavila had been on trial with the club last summer, but couldn’t earn a deal and so signed for Wingate and it was not the first time he’d crossed paths with Widdowson.

“Nathan’s settled in really well and I know him quite well because when I was at Dagenham he came on trial there in July 2016 and then in pre-season he was here under the previous manager (Steve Davis),” said Widdowson.

“He has come from West Ham like I did years ago, so I know ‘Nath’ and he’s a good lad and has settled in really well. He’s a nice guy and is working hard and trying to impress.”

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