Friday, April 02, 2010

Don Fishing

It really has got to crunch time for Charlton, with just eight games left in this season. Much will now depend on the balls that the manager has as much as the ones that the players will be kicking about over this Easter break. By that, I mean has manager Phil Parkinson (left) got enough front to pick a team that will potentially win these last eight games, or will he see away draws (and avoiding defeat) as the be-all and end-all of matters, hoping to catch other sides above us on the sly.

The onus must surely be to go all out for victory; with five teams vying for the remaining automatic promotion place, and with Huddersfield hoping to gate-crash the play-off party should any team self-implode, now is not the time for pussy-footing around.

Of course, Parky’s picks are compounded by who is available and who is injured; the Addicks have enough bodies, and with one or two now fitter (than they were last week at least), decisions will need to be made on who plays and who misses out. Add to that the conundrum that Charlton have six players in the building on loan, when only five can make the match-day squad, and some tough decisions will need to be made. I only hope that they are the right ones!

The goalkeeper slot should be straight-forward; that is, unless Parky thought that a week in training was enough for Tony Warner to oust perennial reserve who now has a chance Darren Randolph. Randolph did little wrong last week, and certainly had no chance with the goal he conceded, so it would be harsh to see Warner step up, though stranger things have happened (this year).

The defence looks to be a fairly straight forward choice, unless anyone else got a late training injury; Frazer Richardson, while not setting the world alight, will start at right back, and Gary Borrowdale, hopefully now fully recovered from his virus, should be in situe on the left. Between these two will be Sam Sodje and Christian Dailly. Matt Fry will have to wait his chance to make his debut, and if the other loanees play, he may not even make the bench. Miguel Llera will also have to see if he can get game time at the place he made his name.

Up front, Dave Mooney is likely to partner new signing Nicky Forster, as he did last weekend. Mooney does give much more movement to the front line than any other option we have, and allied with Forster's knack for goals, could be a very useful pairing. Deon Burton is closer to fitness apparently, which seems a bit rushed to me, and Akpo Sodje is also available for a place on the bench with game time likely late on. Leon McKenzie is still out injured, and may now never make a starting line-up for Charlton.

The midfield is where most of the decisions need to be made; Nicky Bailey was a late casualty last weekend and missed his first match of the season. Rumours are that he may be fit again, or fit enough, which is different but maybe enough for Parky. Where he plays though is a conundrum, as Kyel Reid played pretty well on the left wing last week – and scored a stunning goal – so it’s unlikely that Bailey will slot in there, while Jose Semedo had a good game in the centre. If Bailey is to start, it has to be in place of Therry Racon and alongside Semedo, though this pairing is the one that Parky has seemed not to want to pick at any stage so far this season – maybe it’s a master plan?

Out wide, Reid will play opposite either Scott Wagstaff but more likely the returning Lloyd Sam, who was only fit enough for the bench last week in Yorkshire. Sam ripped the MK Dons team apart in The Valley fixture last November, so has to play if fit enough ahead of Wagstaff. Even an hour of Sam with Waggy replacing him if he runs out of steam would be good enough in my opinion.

This is the side I would love Parky to send out to run roundabouts around the home team tomorrow –

Darren Randolph
Frazer Richardson
Sam Sodje
Christian Dailly
Gary Borrowdale
Jose Semedo
Nicky Bailey
Lloyd Sam
Kyel Reid
Dave Mooney
Nicky Forster

Subs from – Warner, Solly, Fry, Llera, Racon, Shelvey, Spring, Wagstaff, Akpo Sodje, Burton.

The MK Dons are a team in limbo – too far (8 points) away from the play off picture, and with no chance of getting relegated either, they have little to play for but pride. They do have some decent players, and Wilbrahims scored a great goal at The Valley in the reverse game to start the scoring off on that day. He will no doubt be paired with Jermaine Easter - who I'm sure will be hoping to see his name up in lights this weekend for all the right reasons rather than it just being this time of year - who missed the away game due to a call-up for Wales. Easter was of course the player who scored Wycombe’s winning goal in the League Cup quarter final that saw Les Reed leave SE7 once and for all a few years back. Luke Chadwick was once the next David Beckham while playing for Manchester United, so he is another that will need closely marking – we must stop the crosses coming in!

Pedro45 has to hope that Parky goes for it and picks an attacking team; it is so much easier to get in front and then shut up shop than try to make something happen late on in a game when you need to. If Parky picks the team I show above, then I am confident that Charlton can scrape a 2-1 victory that will bring a crucial three points. Playing a negative team though may result in a draw, which does nobody any good.

My one-to-watch in this match is going to be Darren Randolph (left). Big Darren will need to play well if he is to contain the goal threat that the home team have; if he’s on form, we could go on to win, and if he plays poorly then we will probably lose.

It’s now or never for Charlton; let’s forget the other teams around us for once and make them sit up and take notice of us; a confident performance and win will do this, and if it can be followed up on Monday, then six points could see us retake one of the loftier positions in the league once more.

Up the Addicks!

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