George Lapslie is always striving to improve his game – and already has plans for one area to work on in the next off season.
The 21-year-old midfielder signed a new contract until at least 2021 on Tuesday.
Lapslie has featured 25 times for the Addicks in the current campaign – a big jump on the five outings he had in the 2017-18 campaign.
It was all to play for last summer with his previous deal running out in June.
“I knew at the start of the season that I was miles off where I needed to be to get a new contract,” Lapslie said. “I knew I needed to come back in pre-season and really try to hit the ground running.
“Luckily I did that. Bow [Lee Bowyer, manager] and Jacko [Johnnie Jackson, assistant manager] really helped me.
“I think I got offered a new deal about November time but then the January window came around and Steve Gallen [head of recruitment] and Bow were busy trying to get people in – that was more important than getting my stuff done.
“After that it was just a case of nailing things down.
“I’ll always work on things to make myself better. Last summer I was away with my girlfriend on the beach and I like to train on it, it’s quite good conditioning for me.
“I’ve got a personal trainer in Lakeside and I go and do some extras there too.
“This next off season I want to work on my sprint speed, it’s something I need to improve on. I think I could be more effective if I have little sharp bursts into the box.
“The are other times I need to shut down, so that I’m not over-analysing and over-thinking too much.”
What has made Lapslie’s impact more impressive is that it came after an unwhelming loan move last season to Chelmsford, who play in National League South.
The Addicks academy product did not play a single minute in a month-long stay.
“They had been in contact for months before saying that they needed a player like me,” explained Lapslie. “Charlton eventually let me go – and they put me on the bench.
“I used that experience as an extra motivational tool – if you are not getting in this team then how are you possibly going to get in the Charlton team?
“They actually wanted me for the rest of the season but my agent said we would do it month by month, to see how it goes.
“The manager said that because I was only there on a month-by-month basis he could not drop one of his players and play me, because when I go he’d have to put that player back in. I asked why he signed me when they knew it was initially for a month and he said it wasn’t his handiwork.
“Even a few weeks after my loan finished he texted me again asking if I’d go back and promising I’d play. But I just said it wasn’t for me. I’d been there once – he’d sold me the dream already – and I finished the season at Charlton.”
When Lapslie signed his new terms this week there was talk of him being a future Addicks captain.
“I try not to think about captaining the senior side because it is something I really want,” said Lapslie.
“But I don’t want the added pressure that I have got to get there.
“I just need to focus on Saturday and playing well, if I get the chance. And then do the same the following Saturday. If I do then hopefully things like that will come.”
Jackson, who had such a fine career for Charlton, is the first skipper that Lapslie can really remember watching in SE7.
“I look up to Jacko a lot,” he said. “I’m still a bit in awe of training with Jacko and people like Sols [Chris Solly]. Jacko is probably my biggest role model. I say in all my interviews that he and Bow have given me unreal time and information, whether I am playing good or bad.
“As much as I don’t want to make a mistake, I know that they will still back me. At Portsmouth, 10 minutes into the game, Pat [Bauer] played a ball to me and I tried to go first time around the corner to Pearcey [Jason Pearce] and it’s gone straight to their right winger. I got a drink at the next break in play and Jacko said: ‘Lappo, the next time just do it again – you won’t mess up’. I got it to Pearcey the next time and we got out.
“Things like that make you believe in yourself.
“I remember at the end of last season I wasn’t playing the best and I got talking to Steve Avory [academy head] about what I needed to do to improve. He gave me an hour of his time to go through clips – asking: ‘When you get the ball here, do you have a plan? Those are the little things which helps you play better.”
Lapslie’s brother Tom plays for Colchester United. His grandfather John Johnson represented England schoolboys. He is grateful for the support of his mum Sharon, dad Stan and other grandad, Ron.
Lapslie is in the third year of an online degree – coaching for performance in football and sports science. Next up is a dissertation which needs to be handed in by May.
“I’m thinking of doing it on improving agility and sprint speed – what should be in your diet,” he said.
“I’m looking at getting food diaries for a few of the U23s to see how much creatine is in their diet, and the comparison that has with sprint speed.”
Can Lapslie see himself as a one-club man for his career? Solly is in his testimonial season. It is a rarity in the modern game.
“It’s definitely a possibility,” he said. “As I am now, I’ve got no aspiration to leave.
“I feel like I want to give back to the club. I owe the club a lot for who I am. I wouldn’t jump ship at the current time.
“I want to work hard so that it is not necessary to move to a bigger club, I can get Charlton back up to that position.”
Please support your local paper by making a donation
Please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing recently: “A free country needs a free press, and the newspapers of our country are under significant financial pressure”.
So if you have enjoyed reading this story, and if you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can buy our newspaper or make a donation, which will allow us to continue to bring stories like this one to you both in print and online.