Garner previews Oxford United visit


Ben Garner is anticipating a challenging game against Oxford United at The Valley on Saturday.

Garner has been left encouraged by the manner of his side's recent performances as the Addicks go in search of a first league win in seven this weekend.

"Our only focus going into tomorrow is the three points," said the manager. "We want to get back to winning games. There's lots of positive signs - looking at our performance metrics this week we're in the top three, top five for a lot of really key metrics that would normally see you winning games. 

"That isn't quite happening but we need to make sure that we don't lose sight of that and we keep doing the good things. If we tighten up in one or two areas and improve in one or two areas then we'll get the points that our play should warrant.

"We're expecting a difficult game," he added. "Looking at their games Karl [Robinson] has probably had a couple of games, like me, where he must have been coming away scratching his head and wondering how they've lost it. They've been the much better side in three or four of the games that I've watched and they've come away with a draw or a defeat."

Saturday's fixture against the U's marks the start of an action-packed October at The Valley for the Addicks.

"Looking ahead five of our next seven league games are at home, so that's a great opportunity to put huge momentum into our season," Garner explained. "We're unbeaten at home, we've had some really good results and performances and we want to continue to make The Valley a difficult place to come. 

"Even in the two draws we've had in the league we're dominant in both and we should win both. That's a positive sign - no one is coming to The Valley and outplaying us. No one is giving us huge amounts of problems, it's just moments in games that we need to tidy up on. 

"We're looking forward to tomorrow. Hopefully there's a good crowd, a great atmosphere and three points that will really give us the boost that we need. I'm confident that we can do it."

The Addicks will check on the availability of an unnamed player who has been absent with a bout of illness, while Chuks Aneke and Aaron Henry will miss out.

"We have one player that's been off ill the last two days who we'll assess this morning to see if he can join in training and whether he's available for the squad," revealed Garner. "Other than that the ones that have been with us consistently are fine. 

"Steven Sessegnon has had another full week which is great. Obviously Mandela Egbo keeps getting fitter and stronger now and Jes [Rak-Sakyi] is fine, he's been great all week. Chuks will return to full training, hopefully, in the back end of next week. He's had a good week this week and has really progressed. 

"Aaron Henry picked up a knee injury for the U21s on Tuesday which was scanned yesterday. We're just waiting for the results on that which won't impact us for tomorrow, but he would've played on Tuesday which is a shame. Hopefully that's not too serious and we can rehab and get him back as quick as we can."

Following the 2022/23 team photo at The Valley on Thursday afternoon, Garner and his players visited the Charlton Athletic Museum.

"I think it's important that everyone, myself included, fully understands the history and traditions of Charlton and what a fantastic football club it is," explained the boss. "The positives, the great times - winning the FA Cup, the Premier League years - but also the challenges that this football club and its supporters have gone through, most notably having to move away from The Valley. There can't be many football clubs that have formed a political party and campaigned to bring their football club back to its home. 

"For me it's really important that we all understand that and understand that we're now writing the next chapter," he continued. "We're carrying the torch from what has gone before us but we're also going to pass it on to future generations and the next people in line that will have the honour to work for and represent this football club. 

"The guys that hosted us were absolutely brilliant; they gave us a brilliant insight into lots of areas of the club. Hopefully it will be a little bit of extra motivation for the players understanding how much the supporters care about this club, how much they have gone through and how deeply they crave success."

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Get your tickets for Saturday's game against Oxford United in SE7
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