Monday, September 17, 2007

East Anglian Times Two

The games are coming thick and fast over the next few weeks, and no sooner have Charton finished with one East of England side, then along comes another.

Norwich are the visitors to The Valley on Tuesday evening, and the home side will be looking to build on their good start to the season, which has seen them rise to fifth in the league.

Alan Pardew announced late last week that his treatment room was finally empty, and that players like Gibbs, Moutaouakil and Holland were now back in training; sadly, after Saturdays game at Colchester, three different players replaced those in the medical department mentioned above, and it is doubtful we will see all three taking the pitch on Tuesday.

Officially, the talk is that Todorov (who has scored in his last three games) and Iwelumo (who hasn't) both suffered from severe cramp on Saturday; when you saw how watered and soft the pitch was at Layer Road, that is no great surprise. I must say though that when both players went down, neither looked like it was cramp that was bothering them. Similarly, Jon Fortune defintely got a knock (on the toe - broken metatarsel anyone?) and I'd be surpised to see him available or risked.

Luckily, as nearly everyone is fit, Charlton can cope with losing three first team players in one fell swoop, as long as it's not for too long.

With goals being conceded too easily, Fortune and McCarthy were under pressure in defence, and one or both may have been dropped in favour of on-loan Sodje and the fit again Bougherra. From having a full cupboard upfront, we are less well off now, but we will have a chance to see how Luke Varney fares on what must be his home debut, and the options are to bring in Izale McLeod (now that would be a fast front line if he was paired with Varney!) or utilise Darren Ambrose or Zheng Zhi in attacking roles. Even back-from-Crewe Chris Dickson could come into the equation if Toddy and Big Chris are ruled out.

As we do have a fairly large squad this season, who's to say that Pards may not make changes anyway, because he can, and give chances to some of those on the fringe of the first team (Racon, Sam, etc).

This is the side I think Pards may put out -

Nicky Weaver
Danny Mills
Madjid Bougherra
Sam Sodje
Chris Powell
Jose Semedo
Andy Reid
Darren Ambrose
Jerome Thomas
Zheng Zhi
Luke Varney

Subs from Randolph, McCarthy, Sam, McLeod, Racon, plus any of the players who have recovered from injuries.

Norwich have had a slow and unspectacular start to the season; there never seem to be that many goals in their games, but with Jamie Cureton up front and the possibility of Charlton's generous defence being seen once more, we could be in for yet another hatful of goals in SE7.

Pedro45's score forecast suggests otherwise (but then again, how many times in a season do I guess right?!?) - I'm plumping for a 1-0 home win with, at last, a solid show at the back.

My one-to-watch is the man who is likely to make his home debut; it could be as a sub if others are fit, or he may get a start if the manager thinks he needs him, but Luke Varney (left) is about to become another of those two million pound players who grace The Valley in a Charlton shirt. Hopefully he will prove to be better value than some of those who (embarassingly) have moved on a year or so after signing for similar amounts (Traore, Faye, etc).

This will actually be my first home league game of the season, having been out of the country when we played Scunthorpe and Sheffield Wednesday. I'm looking forward to re-claiming my seat but sadly not to seeing/hearing the two guys who have sat behind me over recent seasons. I believe (from friends who went in my stead in August) that one at least has returned (the better option at that, thankfully) but maybe not the other (who may go and watch his first choice Spurs now that Premiership football is not available at The Valley). Whoever I'm surrounded by, it will be good to be back.

Come on you Reds!

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