Strike Pair Set to Miss Charlton Clash
Friday, 21st Sep 2012 16:25
Town boss Paul Jewell is likely to be without strike pair Paul Taylor and Michael Chopra for Saturday's visit from Charlton Athletic, while new loan signing Danny Higginbotham could make his Blues debut. Jason Scotland and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas look set to come into the side with Taylor having cracked a bone in his foot and Chopra a big doubt with a thigh strain.
Aside from the enforced changes, Jewell is likely to stick as much as he can with the team which probably deserved better than a 2-0 defeat against Wolves on Wednesday, although the Blues boss will have to decide whether to start new loan signing Danny Higginbotham despite the Stoke man not having trained with his new team-mates.
Scott Loach will be in goal with skipper Carlos Edwards on the right and Aaron Cresswell on the left with Luke Chambers and Higginbotham or Tommy Smith in the centre.
In midfield, Guirane N’Daw is again likely to be partnered by Massimo Luongo in the centre with Daryl Murphy probably on the left and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas on the right with Lee Martin restored to his role behind the lone striker, who in Chopra’s likely absence will be Jason Scotland.
Nathan Ellington could be amongst the subs with Town’s striking options reduced, while Ronan Murray is available with his suspension for his red card in the U21s last week only applying to non-first team matches.
Josh Carson has been out with a knee injury but is fit again and is likely to be on the bench, while Elliott Hewitt has a minor thigh problem but wouldn’t have been ready for a place in the squad anyway as he continues his comeback from his hip operations.
Jewell says that after the Wolves loss he moved straight on to looking at the next match: “It’s never nice after any defeat but we’ve got to bounce back. We can’t have any hang-ups or hangovers about the game.
“We came in Thursday morning and started preparing for the game against Charlton. That’s football, there’s always another game.”
He says even before the recent goal drought, finding the net was a priority in training: “We’ve actually focused more on shooting in the last month, so we’ve abandoned that!
“We train them very hard and we train them very well. The lads were very low yesterday but today training’s been bubbly.”
He says he’s told his 23rd-placed squad that there’s no hiding place: “We’re not the only team in the Championship who think they should be higher in the league. Every team always thinks they should be winning matches.
“It’s a very, very tough and competitive league. Charlton gives us an opportunity, just as it gives Charlton an opportunity, to get three points.
“I’ve said to the players that it’s easy to hide away in situations like this and try and duck and shirk your responsibilities, but collectively we have to take them.
“We were in the same situation last year when it was tough, and football is tough, it doesn’t always go swimmingly.
“Certainly from my point of view and the players’ point of view, we know that the fans’ expectations are higher than we’re giving them at the moment and we know they deserve better and we’ll be striving to do that.”
Jewell expects Charlton to give a first start to one-time Town loanee Ricardo Fuller, who he says could have been playing for the Blues this weekend: “I think he will definitely start tomorrow.
“He was one that we were interested in but for different reasons things don’t happen. Maybe the bright lights of London. He’s a good player, strong, has great ability and he’ll be a handful.”
He says sad events off the field this week have brought the current on-pitch struggles into their proper focus: “We know that we’ve got to play a football match and important as that is in our lives, it’s not life and death.
“It might feel it at the time, but we’ve got to try and put things in perspective. There have been a couple of things which have happened this week which have been tragic and we’re trying to win a football match.
“We’re not talking about people losing their lives here, we’re talking about people’s livelihoods, but at the end of the day we want to try and put things in perspective. We don’t want to get too uptight about it.
“I give it everything I’ve got, the players give it everything they’ve got, but at the end of the day, if you’re doing your best, that’s all you can ask for.”
Charlton boss Chris Powell, whose assistant Alex Dyer was at Wednesday’s 2-0 home defeat to Wolves, confirmed that Fuller could be fit enough to start, having signed from Stoke in the summer: “Yes he could. He has shown to everyone what he is about, the difficulty has always been that Ric had no training behind him.
“You can’t rush him because then it will set you back and set him back more than anything if you throw him in after a week or two of training.”
Powell says another ex-Blue, Danny Haynes, won’t be involved as he continues his comeback from a hamstring injury: “Danny Haynes has just come back and played in a friendly game.
“He did an hour alongside Scott Wagstaff and they’ve both been injured for a number of weeks so they got some minutes under their belt on Wednesday. They still need a bit more to be honest with you.”
Striker Jordan Cook has an eye ulcer and will be unavailable for the League One champions, who have lost their last three games.
Charlton, who are in 22nd in the table, one place ahead of Town on goal difference and without an away win so far this season, scored twice in the last 25 minutes of their 3-2 defeat to Derby on Tuesday and boss Powell says they need to build on that spell: "It's three losses, but I know how quickly things can change in football.
"We need to keep believing in ourselves and go to Ipswich with the last 25 minutes in mind. Obviously we have to work on not giving away cheap goals.
"Our season has got to be built on that, with more intensity to our play, because when we do have more intensity we put teams on the back foot."
Town have just about had the better of the Addicks over the years, the Blues winning 18 games (14 in the league), Charlton 17 (14) and nine (eight) ending in draws.
The teams met most recently in a pre-season friendly in July 2009 when a young Town team fell to a 2-1 defeat at Charlton in a game of three penalties.
The home side went in 2-0 up after Deon Burton twice netted from the spot, while David Norris rebounded Connor Wickham's saved effort after the break.
In the league, we have to go back to October 2008 when a late Nicky Bailey goal secured Charlton a 1-1 draw at Portman Road in a game the Blues should have won comfortably.
Owen Garvan put Town in front in the first half, but after the break the Blues missed a succession of chances with Pablo Couñago failing to convert a penalty.
Earlier that month the Addicks had beaten the Blues 2-1 at the Valley, the goals coming from Bailey and a Moritz Volz own goal at one end and an own goal by Martin Crainie at the other.
Former Blues derby hero Haynes is now back at Charlton, the club from whom he joined the Town academy, while former loanee Fuller joined him at the Valley in the summer.
Young keeper Nick Pope was a schoolboy with the Blues academy before moving on to Bury Town and then Charlton a year ago. Midfielder Lawrie Wilson had a trial at Portman Road in 2006 during his previous spell at the Valley. He re-signed for the Addicks this summer after impressing at Stevenage.
Blues midfielder Lee Martin was on loan at the Valley for the first half of the 2010/11 season before being recalled by Paul Jewell.
The Town team will wear black armbands in honour of former Blue Chris Kiwomya's son Lucas, who died earlier in the week.
Saturday’s referee is Premier League official Martin Atkinson from West Yorkshire, who has shown 20 yellow cards and no reds in five games so far this season.
Atkinson’s last Town game was the 1-0 Carling Cup semi-final first leg victory over Arsenal at Portman Road in January 2011 in which he showed yellow cards only to Darren O’Dea and Tamás Priskin.
Squad from: Loach, Lee-Barrett, Edwards, Cresswell, Ainsley, Whight, Smith, Higginbotham, Chambers, N’Daw, Luongo, Drury, Hyam, Murphy, Emmanuel-Thomas, Martin, Scotland, Ellington, Murray.
Photo: Action Images
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