Ben Garner was making no bullish statements over the future of Charlie Kirk after the winger notched his first Charlton Athletic goal in the 5-1 demolition of Plymouth Argyle.
The 24-year-old struggled to settle in SE7 last season and spent the second half of last season on loan at Blackpool. But the Championship side opted not to take up an option to make the deal a permanent one in the summer.
Kirk scored Charlton’s fourth goal against Argyle, set up Sean Clare for a blockbuster strike before half-time and also won a penalty when his shot was blocked by the arm of James Wilson, red-carded before Jayden Stockley converted from the spot.
“Delighted for Kirky to score and he won the penalty with his effort at the back post,” said Garner.
“Obviously it didn’t go the way he wanted last season and I know he had some challenges personally, in his personal life, that were difficult moments. But he is growing in confidence and you can see he is feeling more comfortable and he is such a talent. He’s now really working hard. Hopefully he’ll take lots of confidence from that moving forward.
“There’s been nothing as far as I’m aware [a move away]. I spoke to him on day one of pre-season and explained how we’re going to work here and what we’re going to do. And he’s doing great.
“As long as he’s in this building he is our player. I’ll be pleased if we keep working with him. But, as I said yesterday, the window is still open and anything can happen with any player in our squad. Every player has got a price, that goes all the way up to the Premier League. Any club can get a phone call tomorrow, there’s a big offer for one of your players and it changes things.
“We’ll see how we go over the remainder of this window but the wide forwards tonight were really, really good.”
Clare’s goal was a thunderous finish very much in the same mould as Aaron Henry’s rocket against QPR in the EFL Cup last week.
“Long may it continue [scoring spectacular goals],” said Garner. “It was a wonderful goal. We’d had a couple of breaks and almost played too quick. It was a great moment from Kirky where he slowed it down and gave Sean the time – we played the extra pass. What a wonderful finish it was.”
Garner also had praise for academy product Charles Clayden, who was one of three changes from Saturday’s 1-0 loss at Sheffield Wednesday. He replaced Steven Sessegnon in the starting line up.
“Really pleased with Charles, he was outstanding – considering he’d never played left-back before and we put him there in pre-season,” said the Charlton boss. “We wanted to have a look at him and work – it was a fair bit of work to do but he has taken it all on and got better and better. The biggest compliment I can give him is that he’s out there looking like he has played 100 games. It’s great, it gives us competition with Sess.
“The pleasing thing is we made a couple of changes and the level is still high, which is what we want. The players have got to understand it is a squad game and they have bought into that.”
Asked about Wilson’s dismissal, Garner added: “It played a part, for sure. We were the better side up until that point but it was probably a little bit end to end for a 5-10 minute spell where I thought we could’ve had a bit more control and managed. But other than that I thought we were the better side with 11 and going down to 10 it changes the dynamic. Up until half-time we just dropped a little bit but then got back on the front foot at the start of the second half and largely controlled that as well.
“We’ve had three really good performances in a row – three-and-a-half [with the] second half of the Derby game. And we need to keep building on that. We can’t drop our levels and we need to respect every single team that comes here and make it as difficult a place to come to as possible.”
PICTURES: PAUL EDWARDS
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