Charlton Athletic top-scorer Miles Leaburn is facing a number of weeks on the sidelines after suffering ankle ligament damage in Tuesday’s 4-2 win over Exeter City.
The 18-year-old striker came off in the second half at The Valley.
And Addicks manager Ben Garner confirmed in his press conference previewing Monday’s home game against Portsmouth that Leaburn is due to see a specialist next week.
Charlton had only just boosted their frontline options with Chuks Aneke playing his first minutes against the Grecians after a calf injury had kept him out since pre-season.
“It’s not good news, unfortunately,” said Garner on Leaburn. “He’s got some ligament damage to his ankle. He’ll see the specialist next week. But he’s in a protective boot at the moment. He’s certainly going to be out for a period of time.
“Disappointing for us but also disappointing for Miles, after what a great season he has had so far. I had a really good chat with him on Friday and we’ve put a little plan together of how he comes back from this period in a better place. He’s still learning and there are still things we can with him during this period of time.
“These are some of the challenges you face in professional football.
“Mandela Egbo has been a great example. He started pre-season really strongly and picked up a really unfortunate injury but has come back better, sharper, fitter and stronger. That’s what we try to do with players so they can try to hit the ground running when they do return.
Asked by the South London Press if Leaburn could just be out for around a month, Garner replied: “I never like to put a timeframe on things but I would definitely say more than a month. We’ll wait for full details.
“He just rolled his ankle and rocked it a little bit. We had an X-ray straight away in the early hours of Wednesday morning and that came back with good news – there was no fracture. But unfortunately the scan on Thursday showed ligament damage and we’re now waiting for him to see the specialist to really finalise the timeframe on that.
“He’s just had back-to-back starts and scored a wonderful goal on Tuesday night. He’s progressing at such a rapid rate. But the challenge now is to come back better. And, as always, it provides an opportunity for someone else in the squad to come in and take their chance.”
Aneke has only just returned from injury and has rarely played the full 90 minutes in his Charlton career.
Garner had recently switched to a 4-4-2 formation which paired Leaburn and Jayden Stockley in attack.
Asked if Leaburn’s injury might mean shelving that, Garner said: “We’ve got different ways of playing. We’ve had two good training days working on how we’re going to play, with and without the ball. We did that well Tuesday. We didn’t play a flat 4-4-2 or an orthodox 4-4-2, we played a good shape in possession to try and identify key areas where we felt we could hurt them and pull them out of their shape.
“We did that really well. It will be similar on Monday night. We need to target the areas we think are key against Portsmouth – how do we hurt them and how do we create and get as many shots as possible while, at the same time, being solid defensively and restricting them.
“There is flexibility there in the squad but it is a very different profile to Miles in terms of whoever comes in is not going to be the same type of player.”
PICTURE: KYLE ANDREWS
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