BY LOUIS MENDEZ
Charlton skipper Jason Pearce has been chomping at the bit to make his return from injury – and finally did so as he played the whole 90 minutes of the 1-1 draw at Shrewsbury Town.
The central defender, who celebrated his 33rdbirthday yesterday, hadn’t played a league game since the South Londoners were relegated on the final day of the Championship season at Leeds United in July.
The Hillingdon-born former Leeds and Wigan Athletic man was able to last the entire match at the New Meadow as Charlton took a 1-0 lead through Ben Watson, only to be pegged back as Oliver Norburn scored from the spot with basically the final kick of the game to secure a point for the struggling Shrews.
Pearce had picked up a knee problem in the summer, with his return to action then delayed after suffering a complication with his calf.
He did feature for 45 minutes of the EFL Trophy win against Leyton Orient two weeks ago and says he felt like he could have returned to league action sooner but boss Lee Bowyer wanted to ensure his fitness was up to scratch.
Pearce explained: “I’m delighted to be back. I’ve been working as hard as I can to be back. I felt like I was ready before today but the manager wanted me to get more minutes and I obliged. I always just want to play football so I asked him if I could play in the u23s.
“I played with the u23s on Monday, played 90 minutes. If he felt like I needed more than I would have played more. I respect the manager’s decision and I was fortunate enough to get my chance today. Hopefully I’ve done well enough for him. I’ll just keep working hard.”
With fellow centre-halves Deji Oshilaja, Ryan Inniss and Akin Famewo all ruled out themselves through injury, the Addicks have been forced to utilise midfielder Darren Pratley and right-back Chris Gunter over the last few weeks.
“They’ve been great, both of them,” added Pearce.
“I’ve been watching the games and wanted them to do well. I want us to do well and the main thing is that Charlton win. We’ve had a few bad results recently and I was hoping to get my opportunity back in the team. I’ve waited and hopefully I’ve done well enough today. Obviously, I’ll be a little bit rusty but the more games I play the better I’ll get and hopefully I can help the team in the long run.
“At the start of the season we kept a lot of players fit and kept the same team and went on a bit of a run. Now the games are coming thick and fast like they do in this league and we’re getting different injuries but we’ve got a good squad. We want to be up there and we know we should be seeing this game [at Shrewsbury] out. It was a tough game and every game is tough in this league.
“We went to Burton and people on the outside would expect us to win that game and we got beaten 4-2 and rightly so. Every game is going to be tough so we’ve got to be up for the fight and we’ve got to play our football. We’ll reflect on the game and hopefully we’ll put it right next week.”
PHOTOS: KYLE ANDREWS
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