17-year-old Charlie Barker has done his hopes of starting the League One opener at Crewe no harm, says Charlton boss Lee Bowyer

BY LOUIS MENDEZ

17-year-old Charlie Barker was hoping to break into Charlton’s u23’s side this season – but now there’s a real opportunity that the defender will feature in the first-team’s League One opener at Crewe Alexandra next week.

The youngster started his second competitive game in a row as he turned out for the Addicks at Swindon in the League Cup days after featuring at AFC Wimbledon in the EFL Trophy – topping his fairy-tale week off with a goal in the 3-1 win at the County Ground.

Boss Lee Bowyer says that the u18 player has given himself a chance to feature at Gresty Road next weekend and the league season gets underway.

“As it stands, we’re under an embargo and we have to get players out before we can sign players,” explained Bowyer, who is also without skipper and defensive mainstay Jason Pearce for a few more weeks due to injury.

“For as long as that [places will need to be filled], and Charlie has done himself no harm. I think he’s quite a level-headed kid anyway – it’s not like the occasion will get to him. A league game wouldn’t be any different to this for him.

Barker celebrates after his first ever goal in senior football puts Charlton 2-1 up at Swindon. Kyle Andrews

“I’m really pleased for him. He’s only seventeen and to perform that well, twice on the spin. That’s why I played him again. Can you do it again? Sometimes your adrenalin gets you through the first game. So, I thought I’ll keep him in there today and see if he can do that again, and he did.

“I’m really pleased for young Charlie to score. I think he was excellent again. As a defender, he was good in possession but his defending was excellent. To get the goal, I’m really pleased for him.

“The players, they’re all competing to play in that first league game next week. They had to step it up from the other night. The other night wasn’t really what we’re about – we took our foot off the pedal a bit. Today, they were very professional and finished the game well.

“I think it was a good performance from start to finish. Some youngsters out there as well making good performances. We controlled the game for large parts of it. Maybe the first 10-15 minutes of it we were quite nervy but from then on we looked in control.”

PHOTOS: KYLE ANDREWS


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