Friday, April 25, 2008

Out of Africa

Back in Blighty, and it does seem I picked a good couple of weeks to be away – missing three Charlton games that merely confirmed everyone’s thoughts that we simply haven’t been good enough this season.

Now that Alan Pardew (left) has finally conceded that the play-offs are beyond the Addicks, he is looking to the future: Leroy Lita has been recalled by desperate Reading, and Lee Cook sent back to falling Fulham as he is no longer required. Sam Sodje is injured, and unlikely to play for Charlton again, which leaves just Greg Halford of the loan “stars” left to play in red.

Pards has also intimated that a couple of the much-vaunted youngsters will get the chance to make their debuts in the last couple of games, and I expect Scott Wagstaff to start at Barnsley, with JonJo Shelvey making an appearance from the bench in midfield (he may been replace Wagstaff?). Shelvey will become the youngest ever Charlton player if he plays in the first team this season, even though he looks considerably older than practically everyone else in the team!

With a number of injuries to the fore this week, that decision is easier, especially as Jerome Thomas, Lloyd Sam, and Zheng Zhi and all doubtful to start or complete the 90-minutes in Yorkshire.

This is the side that I think Pards may start with at Oakwell –

Nicky Weaver
Greg Halford
Ben Thatcher
Madjid Bougherra
Paddy McCarthy
Matt Holland
Jose Semedo
Darren Ambrose
Scott Wagstaff
Andy Gray
Luke Varney

Subs from Randolph, Elliott, Fortune, Youga, Zhi, Shelvey, Iwelumo.

The season really is finishing like a damp squib, with little more to play for than pride and a mid-table finishing spot. Most of the players will know if they are to stay at the club by now, or if they will be sold or dismissed as not good enough or too expensive (whispers say to expect a major summer clear-out…). However, with a couple of youngsters to gee them up, Charlton may actually force some sort of a result, especially if the relegation pressure starts to surface in the home team. Pedro45’s score prediction is a 1-1 draw, though I should probably go with another one-nil defeat. I really am hoping the new players who come in may provide a big boost to a flagging team.

My one-to-watch just has to be Scott Wagstaff; after a great reserve season, and as captain of the youth team, we need to find out if we have a ready made youngster who can step into the wide position that Jerome Thomas expensively fills. Touted as a good player, I really hope he can put in a solid hour and cement his place as one for next week, next season, and many more after that with a good performance.

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