firstname.lastname@example.org Charlton Athletic have the option to further extend Jake Forster-Caskey’s SE7 stay – but the midfielder totally understands why he has initially only signed a
The Addicks announced on Sunday that the 25-year-old had put pen to paper on a contract which runs until at least 2020.
Forster-Caskey missed nearly all of the previous campaign after rupturing his anterior cruciate knee ligament in the final training session before the League One opener at Sunderland.
But the former Brighton man came back into Lee Bowyer’s matchday 18 in the closing weeks and came on as a 79th-minute sub against Scunthorpe United on April 22.
“I think there are options to extend it but, if I’m brutally honest, I think the club have protected themselves a little bit,” said Forster-Caskey. “That is fine by me.
“I’m happy with how I am physically. I’m just excited with going back.
“I made the decision to drop down a level to go to Charlton and I’m glad I’ve got the chance to prove I can be a Championship player.
“I’d been in League One for two-and-a-half seasons but I’ve played the majority of my career in the Championship.
“I’m hungry. I think when you have missed a season like I did, through a freak injury, then you probably become a little bit more mature and do everything to be the best you can. I’ll do everything in my power in that respect this year and for the foreseeable future.
“A couple of days after the final all the players had meetings with Lee Bowyer and he told me that he wanted to keep me.
“The fans, ever since day one, have been loyal to me. They’ve supported me since I came here and loved me from day one. I got injured and they stayed the same. They got me through my injury – I want to repay them now with some good performances and get back to my best.
“Ever since the first day I did the injury Bow said to me: ‘I know you’ll come back stronger – I’m always there for you’.
“He is an honest bloke and I don’t think he would say it if he didn’t mean it. Both him, the fans and Jacko [Johnnie Jackson, assistant manager] have been there for me through the whole process.
“You believe what they are saying but you never really know in football – things change. It means you can’t take anything for granted.”
One change that could have happened this summer surrounded Bowyer.
Only the persistence and patience of the Addicks manager eventually saw a new deal signed.
At one stage there looked a real possibility he could walk away after promotion – which would have been a disaster. So, did his future affect Forster-Caskey committing?
“I’ve loved the club from the start and managers do come and go,” he said. “But I’ve got on with Bow from the moment he came in – first as a coach, then assistant manager and then the manager.
“I like the way he manages. He doesn’t lie. And I’d be lying if I said it didn’t make a difference, because I did ask Jacko what the situation was with the manager.
“Once I heard he was going to sign it made it a really easy decision.”
When I caught up with Forster-Caskey earlier this week he was on his way to GoPerform in Reading, described as a state-of-the-art physiotherapy and sports injury performance centre.
They have provided advice and support throughout his rehabilitation.
Forster-Caskey was on the bench for four of the final five matches but was an unused sub in all the play-off ties.
He admits it changed the Wembley experience a bit.
“There are mixed emotions,” said Forster-Caskey.
“You want to be playing each week and to be a big part of the promotion.
“But, at the same time, this injury has made me realise not to take anything for granted – you have to enjoy the highs because there are some lows in football.
“I look at it a bit differently now. Even though I didn’t get on the pitch I do feel it was a personal achievement to be able to get back, that was amazing.
“Just to be involved in the day was special for us as players, management and staff.”
The Charlton team was also motoring in 2019 – eating up ground above them as they made a late play for a top-two finish – and bosses don’t usually break up a winning unit.
“The season before we had brilliant momentum and changed the side on the final day and lost that game,” said Forster-Caskey. “I don’t know if that was the difference in going into the play-offs hot, or not.
“The boys were playing really well at the end of last season and I’m not a selfish person – I’d rather the team do well over me getting more minutes, even though my contract situation wasn’t resolved at that point. I’ve got good friends in the team and I wanted to see them reach their goals.”
Now comes the next target – Championship consolidation.
“It is going to be a hard task and if we can stay in this division – with the budget that has been talked about – I think it will be a better achievement than getting promoted out of League One,” said Forster-Caskey.
“But at the same time we’ll be getting hungry players with a point to prove at that level, so I wouldn’t write us off.
“Bows, Jacko and Steve Gallen recruited well last season. It is up to us as players just to concentrate on getting better every day and leave them to concentrate on bringing some good players in to help us. If we do that, then we’ll be fine.”
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