Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Marching In

The FA Cup loss to Northwich Victoria has left a bad taste in many Charlton fans mouths and, hopefully, that foulness can be taken away with a bounce back win tonight in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy. Charlton visit Southampton with it all to prove. It is highly unlikely that the same eleven players who performed so poorly on Sunday will start the game, but many will, due to the rules of this competition. I just hope that they realise that anything less than 100% is not acceptable if they wish to continue wearing a Charlton shirt.

Phil Parkinson, as any manager should, rightly shouldered the blame for the defeat to the non-league side, as he picks the players for every match. He will have gone into that game knowing that Charlton had three games in six days, and had already said that he would need to use his full squad. Maybe that accounted for some of the lack-lustre, as players knew that they had other strength sapping matches to come; it was totally wrong if they did.

Parky has to abide by the rules of the competition, which require six of the players with most league and cup appearances this season to play from the start. To this end, it is easier to predict who will have to play rather than who might not, so here goes…

We have three ‘keepers, and Rob Elliot played in the last round; he’s injured now, so as Darren Randolph has been substitute in every game up till Sunday (where he played), and Carl Ikeme has only played once, it has to be Randolph in goal for me.

The defence may be shaken up, but unless Kelly Youga is moved to the right back slot, I expect Elliot Omozusi to carry on at right back. I do think that Grant Basey will get a game, so Youga’s action may depend on others availability. I also think that Miguel Llera will play, and that means that one of Sam Sodje and Christian Dailly will be left out, probably our Nigerian.

If we play Llera, Dailly, Youga, and Randolph, then we are obliged to only involve two more of the regular players, though I suspect that more may start. Nicky Bailey is almost certain to be one of these, and Jose Semedo will probably also start. I think that Matt Spring will get a game too, so that means playing Bailey out on the left once more. Lloyd Sam looks in need of a rest, so I expect Scott Wagstaff to get another 90 minutes, especially after he did so well in the last round.

That leaves two places for strikers, and Parky really has to make the call between 4-4-3 and 4-5-1. After much recent experimentation, he must agree with fans and realise that the only time we can and should play 4-5-1 is when Jonjo Shelvey fills that behind-the-striker role. Tamer Tuna is the only other player to have made a decent go of it, and it took him over 20 minutes to get settled in the Barnet game. For that reason, unless Shelvey is given a start, and he might be, then I would play two up front and hope that the Bailey-Spring-Semedo midfield can cope.

Dave Mooney must be chomping on the bit to get a start for the Addicks, having been used solely as a sub since he arrived on loan. I would give him that time tonight, and play either Leon McKenzie or Izale McLeod alongside him. Deon Burton was only a sub on Sunday playing the last half hour, and we know that he struggles to recover from his hernia problem from week to week; I therefore think it doubtful he will play from the start this evening. With Tuna dropping back down to play for the Youth team recently, it looks like Parky is content he has enough other options up front.

This is my guess at Charlton’s starting line up for this cup game –

Darren Randolph

Elliot Omozusi

Miguel Llera

Christian Dailly

Grant Basey

Jose Semedo

Matt Spring

Nicky Bailey

Scott Wagstaff

Izale McLeod

Dave Mooney

Subs from Ikeme, Richardson, Youga, Mambo, Stavrinou, Racon, Sam, Burton, Shelvey, Tuna, McKenzie.

Picking a Southampton team is just as difficult, but as they have been on a roll of late, I expect them to be extremely tough opponents. They have been fairly free scoring recently and with Rickie Lambert and David Connolly have two forwards who know where the goal is.

Pedro45 has been very down over our loss on Sunday and the recent poor form of the team generally. Sadly, I can see no option for an upturn tonight and think that they may have to call the dogs off when it gets nasty – I predict a 4-0 loss, and more angst among fans.

My one-to-watch for tonight is going to be Scott Wagstaff (left), scorer of a terrific goal against Barnet in the last round of this competition (top pic). With Sam out of form, we should be seeing more of Waggy on the wing, and tonight may be his chance to shine and put pressure on Sam to put up or shut up.

It’s been a bad week for Addicks fans so far, and things may get even worse tonight, unless Charlton can get an unexpected win. That could turn everything around of course, and keep the club on track for Wembley, which is some fans dream. I’m just not of that opinion, but will be happy to see it come true.

Up the Addicks!

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I'm delighted to say McCleod won't be sullying a Charlton shirt tonight, nor for a while. He's just been banned for three games for the elbow incident.
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