Friday, January 06, 2006

The Owls and the Pussycats

Charlton travel to Yorkshire tomorrow for an FA Cup third round tie against Sheffield Wednesday. The omens are not too good however, and Charlton may be happy to settle for a draw and a replay back at the Valley.

Injuries are starting to play a part in the make up of the side this season, with several potential starters not being available.

Sorondo has missed three games now following the late "horror" tackle from Fabregas, and he may be out for a few more weeks if reports of a broken foot are correct. Smertin is still out with his knee ligament trouble, and the virus that Jerome Thomas has contracted seems to be lingering quite a while. Jay Bothroyd has disappeared from the scene after his much publicised black-out caused car crash.

Add to that the players who are out on loan at present - Randolph, Ricketts, Walker - and those that are not good enough - JJ, Jeffers - plus El Karkouri being away with Morocco and the squad that Alan Curbishley has had to draw from this year is quite stretched.

So who will be carrying the Charlton flag into FA Cup battle tomorrow?

Curbs still has three fit goalies to pick from, but any move away from the incumbent Thomas Myrhe would be a big surprise. Stephan Andersen will no doubt be a sub.

In defence, Luke Young will captain the side once more and, if he has recovered from his thigh bang at Everton last Monday, Hermann Hreidersson will also feature. Whether that is at left back, his best position, or at centre back is a little less certain, but I expect Chris Powell (left) to retain the left back spot, and Jon Fortune to continue in the middle with Hermann. The only other option appears to be to play Chris Perry in place of Powell or Fortune.

Up front, Darren Bent will run his heart out once more, and he will probably play alongside Shaun Bartlett unless Curbs switches formation.

In midfield, some options remain, but they are not as clear as they once were. Without Alexei Smertin alongside, Danny Murphy has struggled to assert himself, and he may therefore be convenientely rested due to a minor hamstring injury picked up at Goodison. That leaves Kishishev, Holland and Hughes seemingly unchallenged in the centre of midfield, with a wide option being provided by Dennis Rommedahl and/or Darren Ambrose. Personally I'd like to see Charlton play with two wide players and Hughes relegated to the bench.

The substitutes will no doubt come from those mentioned above, plus Kevin Lisbie, hopefully Jason Euell, posssibly Franny Jeffers, Jonathan Spector (who is happy to stay at The Valley for the rest of this season having no chance of getting a game at Old Trafford on current form...) plus any remaining youngsters if needed.

The game should be a time for Charlton to regain confidence and form, but the FA Cup doesn't always allow that to happen. Wednesday have nothing to lose and will attack at every opportunity if they have any sense. They have won their last two matches, and will be the happier side going into the game. The pitch should be reasonable, and the atmosphere good, with a large Charlton contingent travelling.

But, and there is always a but with this type of game, it is Charlton...a team with a dreadful defensive record recently. This is the worst type of banana skin that Charlton could step toward at the moment.

Maybe I'm too pessimistic? Too negative? We are the Premiership team let's not forget!

Hopefully then Charlton will come away with a win - Pedro45's score prediction is a 2-0 victory, and the player to watch is Dennis Rommedahl (left) who could just be the match winner we want in the cup this season!

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