Date: 3rd May 2007 at 1:51pm
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Martin Ling has revealed how hard it was to tell his playes that some of them would not be at the club next season.

The O`s boss released six players including skipper John Mackie, winger Shane Tudor and full back Justin Miller.

Donny Barnard, Phil Mulryne and Derek Duncan have also been told their futures lie away from Brisbane Road.

Meanwhile, Ling has offered contracts to ten players and is expecting a quick answer as he prepares for another season in League One.

‘It has been a difficult couple of days and my head is still spinning,” said Ling.

‘It’s never easy to tell players who have been good servants of the club and played their part in the club’s success that they are no longer required.

‘But you have to let your head rule your heart in these situations.

‘To be fair to the players, they took the news well and accepted the situation. But you feel for people like John Mackie who has been a good captain and a leader on the pitch.

‘He is a good professional and took it on the chin, but I knew he was hurting,’ added the O’s boss.

‘While Justin is a decent full back but difficult decisions have to be made. And, to be fair to Justin, he felt it was time for a change.

‘Obviously, players like Mackie, Miller and Tudor are crowd favourites, but it’s a fact of life that to rebuild I need to free up some money and to do that you need to release some of the bigger wage earners.’

Orient head to Huddersfield on Saturday for their final game of the season and Ling will not involve any of the six in his squad.

‘Once decisions like that are made it’s best to let the players go and it gives them a chance to try and sort something out for next season,’ said the O’s boss who expects a busy summer.

‘We are probably the first club to sort out our retained list and we would like a decision from the players we have offered new contracts to within eight days.

‘It will be an interesting week,’ added Ling, as he starts to rebuild in earnest.

‘I want to sign at least six more players during the summer and that’s if all the players who have been offered deals stay. If they don’t, then I will be looking to replace them as well,’ he added.

Ling is under no illusions of the task ahead. ‘We need to build another little stepping stone. We competed for two thirds of the season. But for the first third we were rubbish,’ he said.

‘But overall it’s been a semi-successful campaign and it’s been a step forward. You finish where you deserve to finish and we have done enough to finish out of the bottom four. But we are a bottom six side and that’s what we have been all season, especially at the start and from then on we had a real uphill battle.

‘But we have got out of it and I’m pleased we have done it. Now I can have a good week’s sleep at last and so can the supporters. Looking back the two big results were the wins at Chesterfield and Bradford. Those were the defining factors of the season.

‘Those who wrote us off after 16 games and were panicking will be pleased with the outcome, but they will now be looking for what we can do next season.’

Things will not be any easier with Luton, Southend and Leeds looking likely to drop into League One. ‘It will be a tough league, but at least we will still be in it,’ said Ling.

‘After 20 games the chairman said to me that it was his job to finish the stand and it was my job to keep us in the division. He’s done his bit and I’ve done mine and now we go on to the next stage of the progression, although it’s not been the season we wanted, that’s for sure.’

Ling is adamant in his belief that he did not underestimate League One: ‘We are content standing here after the way we started. But I never shouted from the roof tops that we would go up. I said we would compete and for two thirds of the season, I believe we did,’ he said.

And Ling believes he can build on what he has achieved at Orient. ‘I have a big belief in my own ability and when people criticise or test me, I feel I have come up with the right answers.

‘That’s the important part of the job, to make the right decisions when you need to and to win the important games when you need to and I think that’s been proved since I have been in charge.”