Friday, September 15, 2006

Defenceless against the Navy

So how do we play this one? The team is without most of its usual defensive stalwarts, and changes have to be made. The back line is short, that means numbers will probably need to be made up from the midfield ranks, and that could weaken another area of the side. It is only in goal and up front that the team remains stable. This is Dowie's dilemna (and not his first of the season...) for the home match versus Portsmouth tomorrow.

In goal, Scott Carson will continue, and he will no doubt be hoping to carry on the good form that has seen him save penalties in the last two games, and make a number of additional outstanding saves.

In defence, the main area where Charlton are short on numbers, Dowie basically has to consider anyone who is fit. Injuries from last weeks defeat at Chelsea have hurt the side badly. Luke Young was hobbling in that game, but will almost certainly have to carry on with his dicky ankle until a time when he can get it sorted properly. Talal El Karkouri, by no means an automatic first choice, will also play centrally. Who else plays at the back is open for debate, so what are Dowie's options?

Radostin Kishishev is fit, and can come in at right back. The Kish is keen to impress after being left out of the starting eleven for the first few games, and he will start, although maybe not at right back. Osei Sankofa came through a reserve game on Monday, and he is another right back to consider. Both of these options presume that Luke Young is either not fit, or moves over to either central defence or left back. The left side full back position is possibly the problem position to fill, as choices here reflect across the whole defence. If Young plays on the left, Kish or Osei plays right side. But should Dowie consider either of youngsters Kelly Youga or Nathan Ashton for their league debuts at left back? Both have experience of playing in this position, and Ashton started several first team pre-season games.

Alongside El Karkouri in the centre of defence, the choices are limited. Amady Faye has filled in well on the two times he was required to play centre half this season (against Bolton after Hrediersson was sent off, and last week once Diawara went off injured), and has yet to see a goal conceded while he was playing in this position. The only other options are Young or Youga, but realistically, I cannot see either of them being asked to start centrally tomorrow.

So where does that leave Dowie? He has several choices to make, and what he comes up with will definitely impact on midfield, as one or both of Faye and Kishishev will almost certainly be asked to play in defence. If Curbishley was in charge, I think he would go with experience at the back, and experience in midfield, in the hope that these players could nullify any threat. Dowie is more open though, and I think we might see one of Sankofa or Ashton start, leaving Kishishev to fill Faye's role in midfield.

Unless, of course, Omar Pouso, Charlton's recent Uruguayan signing is fit enough to fill a defensive midfield position? Reports from the reserve game suggest that he did very well after taking a few minutes to settle into the game. I think he will definitely make the squad for this game, and I would like to see him replace Hughes (who has done little this season) personally.

Another enforced change is for someone to replace the injured Andy Reid. Dennis Rommedahl is flying at the moment, and this should be one of the easier decisions for Dowie to make. His inclusion, with Darren Ambrose switching to the left, should benefit both Darren Bent and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, who would prefer an out-and-out winger feeding balls into the box.

This is the team I would pick, though Dowie may (and probably will) differ in opinion -

Scott Carson
Luke Young
Talal El Karkouri
Amady Faye
Nathan Ashton
Omar Pouso
Radostin Kishishev
Darren Ambrose
Dennis Rommedahl
Darren Bent
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink

Substitutes: Thomas Myrhe, Osei Sankofa, Bryan Hughes, Matt Holland, Marcus Bent.

Portsmouth will be relishing the visit to The Valley, having yet to concede a Premiership goal this season. They sit second in the table, and know that a win will leap them to the top of the table, for a few hours at least. They have bought a number of high profile and experienced players during the close season, including Sol Campbell, David James, Andy Cole, and top scorer Nwankwo Kanu. They will be no push-over!

Pedro45's score prediction is a toughed out 2-1 win. Dowie seems to relish the adversity that games such as this bring, and I think his team will be fired up ad perform well. Jimmy-Floyd has got off the mark, and it would be good to see a proper celebration of a goal from him after his understandably muted celeberation last week. With Rommedahl also looking dangerous, Charlton could have too much pace for Pompey to handle.

My one-to-watch tomorrow is Scott Carson; the on-loan goalie is fast becoming a bit of a legend at The Valley (when was the last time a Charlton goalie saved consecutive penalties?) and he will be crucial to any chances that the Addicks have tomorrow.

Come on you reds!

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