Monday, February 22, 2010

Oh We Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside...

My, how Charlton hearts have lifted since Saturday’s home win against Yeovil! The confidence gained will hopefully see the Addicks through their next spate of games, starting at home against Brighton on Tuesday night. With Southend away the opposition on Friday, it will have been a busy week for the Charlton side, and the squad will have been stretched to the full I’m sure.

While manager Phil Parkinson would have liked to have kept an unchanged side after the weekend win, it does seem that that will not be possible, following groin injuries to ‘keeper Rob Elliot and also right back Frazer Richardson. Elliot has been a bit of a wounded soldier in recent games, picking up a back injury versus Tranmere, then a hand knock against Swindon. While those two injuries failed to keep him out of the next game (even if the dodgy back did force him from the field), this one might it seems, and Darren Randolph will be on stand-by to start, with Jimmy Binks as bench back-up. The injury to Richardson is less of a surprise, as he took time out on Saturday to put on some jogging shorts in an effort to keep his groin strain warm; whilst this was a sense of amusement to some at the game (it’s always funny when footballers take off their shorts isn’t it? Ask Terry or Cole!), this did suggest a problem which has now surfaced. Chris Solly will almost certainly step into the breach, although it is possible that Jose Semedo could play at right full back too, should Richardson miss the game.

The rest of the team looks like it may be given another run out in the hope of continuing the form shown against the Glovers; whilst it took time to gel, once it did the players looked quite comfortable and could easily have gone on to win by more. With a third game in six days to come, I would hope that Parky may rest some of the key players once sufficient lead has been won (if it can be), and that should mean game time for Semedo at some stage, plus possibly Akpo Sodje, Leon McKenzie, and/or Scott Wagstaff.

This is the side I think will start against Brighton, presuming Richardson and Elliot are unfit –

Darren Randolph
Chris Solly
Miguel Llera
Christian Dailly
Johnnie Jackson
Nicky Bailey
Therry Racon
Lloyd Sam
Kyel Reid
Dave Mooney
Deon Burton

Subs from Binks, Semedo, Clark, Mambo, Sam Sodje, Spring, Shelvey, Wagstaff, McKenzie, Akpo Sodje.

As I’m going on holiday and will not be able to post a review of the Brighton game, or a preview of the Southend or Stockport games, I thought I’d tie these matches all together in one post.

All three games are winnable, and if they are won then that should be enough to catapult Charlton right back into automatic promotion contention. All of the opposition are closer to the bottom of the table than they would comfortably like, and Brighton showed they have fight when taking a point from Leeds at the weekend that could easily have been all three. They will be without Virgo – a key player for them - who was sent off late in that match, but have dangerous forwards in Murray and Forster. Stockport won their first game in 17 matches on Saturday, and we have to hope that this is a mere blip in their awful season. Southend meanwhile went down 3-1 at the inconsistent MK Dons, and they are just a point above the relegation places now. Since we beat Stockport and Southend in December, both clubs have sold their best players, with Baker leaving County for Coventry, and Barnard joining the Pardew revolution/revolving door in Southampton. Both teams should therefore be weaker than when we played them previously.

Pedro45 will be back just prior to the Millwall game, but may not have time for a preview of that match; I will therefore include that in my predictions which are that we will win against Brighton 2-0; win against Southend 1-0; beat Stockport 3-1; and draw at the new Den 1-1. If Charlton can achieve this set of scores, then the clubs above the Addicks will really start to feel the pressure of the run-in, and that can only benefit Charlton. Of course, should Charlton slip up against any or all these three teams, then the glances back over our shoulders at the other play-off contenders will look like a nervous twitch.

I cannot really have a separate player to watch covering these games, so my one-to-watch while I am away is going to be manager Phil Parkinson. Parky may well have to juggle his squad as the games come thick and fast, starting tomorrow, and provided he continues to pick as settled a side as possible, and provided he doesn’t tinker with the tactics too much, we should be in a fine position for the last few weeks of this tough season. It has to be 4-4-2 from here on in; it has to be Bailey in central midfield; and it has to be two wingers (at the start of matches at least, in all three aspects). The only thing that can stop Charlton if we start to play better is injuries, and we do have enough squad depth to cover most positions now.

I have been on holiday in the past and Charlton have lost every game while I was away (5 matches in 1994 I think); I’ve also been on holiday and Charlton have won every time, without conceding a goal (5 games in 1998…). It would be lovely if they could win both games while I am out of the country this time, and set up a really good fixture at Millwall that could be the catalyst for promotion. We have to believe!

Come on you Reds!

PS And yes, the beach where I am going is better than the ones at both Brighton and Southend!

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