BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Lee Bowyer has admitted he would have liked more of a physical presence in his midfield as Charlton aim to slow Portsmouth’s League One title charge tonight.
The Addicks slipped out of the play-off zone after Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at Blackpool and are 13 points behind Kenny Jackett’s side.
Bowyer, who collected the League One Manager of the Month award after a perfect November, will be missing Darren Pratley (knee), Josh Cullen (shoulder) and Jamie Ward (groin) for the fixture at Fratton Park.
And the Charlton manager says he always expected Pompey to be top-two contenders.
“They have spent money and got a good squad,” he said. “He’s had time to build there. They are not pretty to watch but have got a way of playing – and it’s working.
“I don’t think they’ve had any major injuries, so there may be a time where they will drop some points when that happens.
“But I’d expect to see them up there, the same with Sunderland. These clubs are able to spend a million pounds on a striker.
“We’ve got to try to do what we’re doing – keep going on runs. We won four on the spin last month and everyone else up the top was doing similar.
“I still believe we’ll be in amongst it at the end of the season, we are not even halfway through. There are a lot of points to be played for.”
Charlton won 1-0 at Fratton Park at the end of April to give their play-off hopes a massive shot in the arm – Nicky Ajose’s first-half goal securing maximum points in front of a packed out away end.
“It was a great day,” said Bowyer. “The fans were unreal, probably the loudest I’d heard them at an away game. It was a scrappy match, not very pretty to watch.
“It will be slightly different this time around – we haven’t got that physicality in our side. I’d love to have Pratley and Josh – we’d be a completely different team. That is not disrespecting the players out there, but they don’t have the experience. Our midfield four on Saturday was three players aged 21 and a 20-year-old. They haven’t got 100 games between them. They haven’t done themselves any harm. But when you go to Portsmouth in front of 18,000 fans, they can find it a bit intimidating.
“Wardy is another who I would rather be able to choose. The midfield is important – it’s where games can be won and lost. But I still think we will go there and win – if we do it right and defend the box, because they put a lot of crosses in. We’ll need to defend well.
“We have to pass it, because physically we will not be able to match them. We need to move the ball quickly and do what we’re good at.”
Naby Sarr looks set to replace Toby Stevenson at left-back.
Subscribe to Blog via Email
Everyone at the South London Press thanks you for your continued support.
Former 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:
“A free country needs a free press, and the newspapers of our country are under significant financial pressure”.
If you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can make a donation which will allow us to continue to bring stories to you, both in print and online. Or, 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