Chris Solly is convinced that Lyle Taylor will be the missing link for Charlton Athletic.
The former AFC Wimbledon striker was Lee Bowyer’s first signing as manager.
Taylor, 28, scored 55 goals in 150 matches for the Dons. He was unplayable in the FA Cup tie between the two clubs in December – scoring twice in a 3-1 victory for the hosts – and also notched the only goal in the League One game at the Cherry Red Records Stadium in April.
“He has always caused us problems and we know what he will bring to the team,” said Addicks club captain Solly, pictured in the 1-0 friendly win over Norwich. “It is maybe something we have lacked over the last couple of seasons.
“He’ll give any defender in this league a hard time and I’m looking forward to watching him doing it rather than defending against him.
“Maybe he was desperate for this move here and that is why he played so well against us. He is a Greenwich boy and this is a big club in League One – help us get promoted and then he’s flying.
“As players you can normally see in the first two or three sessions when a player has got a bit. I could see straight away he’s what we need – he’s quick, strong, aggressive and happy to dish it out, even in training.
“I’m sure he’ll bang in the goals to get us promoted.”
Solly missed the end of last season after injuring his knee against Blackpool.
Charlton need to regroup and go again after that play-off semi-final defeat to Shrewsbury Town.
The right-back said: “The target has got to be promotion – otherwise what is the point of playing? If we don’t aim to get out of this league this season then I don’t know what we’re doing as players.”
Charlton start with that 12.30pm kick off at Sunderland tomorrow. The Black Cats have suffered back-to-back relegations.
“It was one of the first fixtures I was going to look for,” said Solly. “So for it to be first is a great start to the season. If we go up there and beat them it really lays down a marker.
“It will be difficult for them [after a double drop]. It could be the perfect first game, to catch them cold.
“On paper they have got a very strong squad – but so have we. There is no reason we should fear them. We’ll go there with a positive mindset to win the game.”
Bowyer has still had the caretaker tag right up until this week, but has already indicated he will shed that temporary title if protracted takeover talks are not completed.
The former Addicks youth product – who had a high-profile career which took in Leeds United, Newcastle, West Ham and Birmingham – produced an upturn in form in the final months of last season to get Charlton into the top six.
The Addicks were dropping down the table under Karl Robinson, before the Liverpudlian quit to take charge at Oxford.
Solly said: “It’s hard to say if we would have got in the play-offs [without the managerial change]. It’s all ifs, buts and maybes. But he [Bowyer] did a really good job. His target was to get us in the play-offs and he did that.
“It wasn’t quite as successful as we’d all have liked but the fans took to him. The atmosphere on a matchday was hugely different. As a fan being here [while injured] it felt completely different. Hopefully we can kick off like that – with momentum – and carry that through.
“In all my time here the fans have never been against the players. They’ve always been very supportive. Whatever goes on off the pitch doesn’t really affect us now. As players we have dealt with this for a number of years and get on with the job – which is to get out of this league.
“Even at its worse times, it [fan unrest] never affected me. As players we don’t really know a lot, as much as the fans most of the time.
“But it is certainly not as bad now as a few years ago. Our job as players is to win games, that will never change – no matter what.”
Charlton went close last season but now face a third season in League One.
Solly was reduced to a spectator after blocking a shot at Bloomfield Road on March 13 – with initial attempts to avoid surgery.
“I felt the knee open up a little bit. I had to come off and we did rehab for four to six weeks, to see if we could go without an operation because there wasn’t really much showing on the scan. But four weeks later I was still having the same issue.
“The surgeon went in and found a little bit of floating bone and a tiny bit of cartilage that it was catching. They’ve trimmed that down and removed the bone.
“I was pretty much fit a week after the second play-off semi-final. By the final I would’ve been fully fit.
“I hate watching at the best of times, so you can imagine what it’s like in the play-offs. Me, Clarkey [Billy Clarke], Miky [Mikhail Kennedy] and Harry Lennon met up together and watched the game together. I felt so gutted for the boys.
“We were so confident but over the course of the two legs it wasn’t meant to be. Over the course of the season it served us right, we didn’t perform well enough over the 46 games.”
Solly was speaking before the arrival of Darren Pratley and the potential sale of Josh Magennis, who signed a two-year deal with Bolton Wanderers on Monday afternoon.
“Bow’s said he wants a smaller squad but maybe with more quality. We’re probably still a couple short but our starting 11 on paper is very strong, good enough to go and compete in the league.
“We still need a couple but if it doesn’t happen then it time for the young lads to step up and take their chance.
“It can come down to a bit of luck. Everyone looks back to the year we went up – I think we had one injury over the course of the whole season.
“You tend to see a lot of the teams who are doing well keep the same 11 for pretty much the course of the season.”
Solly is into his 10th season as a professional at Charlton and will have a testimonial later in the year.
Jason Pearce is the matchday skipper. Johnnie Jackson, who wore the armband with such distinction, is purely a coach for the South Londoners this season.
“It doesn’t really affect how I am around the place,” said Solly. “I’ve always felt I have given my input when necessary. I’ll always help the young lads as I’ve been through that pathway.
“To get out of this league we’re going to need more than one leader, certainly more than two. We need a team full of leaders. Maybe we lacked that last season.”
Ezri Konsa’s sale means that Anfernee Dijksteel, who has been sidelined with pneumonia, is the back up to Solly at right-back.
“I’ve never really needed a rival to spur me on,” he said. “I’ve always had it within myself to make sure I’m the best I can be.
“If I do that then I’m confident of staying in the team and making the right-back spot my own.”
At some stage comes that testimonial.
“If I could get anyone it would be Arsenal [his boyhood team] but I can’t see that happening. In pre-season Premier League teams are all over the world. It will be a great day when it comes around. Ten years as a pro has just flown by.”