Charlton’s players are in talks about taking a wage deferral to help their club survive the lockdown.

Manager Lee Bowyer has praised his players for opening discussions on a temporary wage cut, with the club facing a massive cash shortfall.

The season’s last nine games might have to be completed behind closed doors – leaving the already cash-strapped Addicks with a massive hole in their finances.

But the circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic have sparked the players into rallying round to take a wage cut, in negotiations with the players’ union, the PFA.

Leading players Chris Solly, Lyle Taylor, Jason Pearce and Darren Pratley have led the talks over how best to ensure the Valley club make it through the crisis.

“We will all pull together because that is what we do,” said Bowyer. “That is how this club has worked for many years.

“Nothing has changed there. “Everyone recognises that this is a difficult situation and will do their bit. Our players are already paid the least in the Championship by a long way. We have spoken to all the players and told them the financial situation. We are speaking to the players about wage deferral. Hopefully, we will agree something soon. “The players may come and go and the staff, too. But the most important thing is the club.

“The squad understand and have been really good.

“Lyle has been a big part of that, making a couple of suggestions – good, positive ones. He is not a selfish or greedy person.

“Solly and Pearce have been a part of it, too. And Darren Pratley has been through this situation before with Bolton. The senior ones have spoken out about it.”

The EFL has also floated this week the idea of a wage cap for its players, to avoid the recent collapse of clubs like Bury.

“But that will not happen to our club,” said Bowyer. “If it happens, it would actually make it more even for us. At the moment, the Championship has clubs which pay big, big money – including some near the bottom. It is a massive gap.”

Bowyer is sceptical of talk about the Championship getting back into action by mid-May. “We all want to play but there are people dying,” he said. “We all really want to finish the season but there will be obstacles.

“We will have to rush through the season – the players need a four-week break because they only had five weeks for the last two years.

“But if we do games behind closed doors, we are paying wages but not getting any income.

“Will clubs survive? Many are struggling and will continue to do so as long as lockdown continues.

“The EFL has said players could possibly be back in training around mid-May.

“But I do not see how that would be possible. And do we have to keep distancing, when the players would all be mixing on the pitch? At the moment it is all guesswork.”

Charlton has furloughed a portion of their non-playing staff, including backroom and medical staff.

But players cannot be furloughed because they are still working – they are keeping to an exercise regime to keep fit, ready to be back in training.