Garner relishing first Valley experience


Ben Garner is looking forward to taking to The Valley touchline for the very first time as Charlton Manager on Saturday.

The Addicks conclude their pre-season campaign against Championship side Swansea this weekend in what is supporters' first chance to watch Garner's side in action in SE7.

Charlton also take on Welling United in a behind-closed-doors friendly on Friday evening, giving the gaffer the chance to get up to 90 minutes of football into two separate XIs over the course of the weekend.

“Overall, our pre-season has been good," reflected Garner. "The only disappointment really has been the injury picked up by Mandela [Egbo]. Other than that it’s been really positive, to be honest. We’ve had no injuries other than that.

"Everyone is getting through the training well and everyone has accumulated a decent amount of playing minutes. We’re getting a lot of the principles of play across that we want to see so, overall, we’re pleased.

"It’s been a good opportunity for people to get to know each other. We now want to finish this final part of pre-season well and then look forward to the season.”

The Manager also provided an update on the fitness of summer signings Mandela Egbo, Steven Sessegnon, Conor McGrandles and Jack Payne. 

“Mandela is progressing well with his injury," said Garner. "He is seeing a specialist this afternoon so we’re hoping to get more positive news on that today.

"The other lads have built up their training now so they are getting there," the boss added. "All will feature in the games today or tomorrow and then we can go into that first game at Accrington in a decent place. We know we still need to add and improve but it’s a decent foundation to start the season.”

Attacking midfielder Payne, who starred under Garner last term, became the Addicks' sixth signing of the summer on Monday, while striker Josh Davison completed a permanent move to AFC Wimbledon.

“In terms of Josh, it was a great deal for the football club and I also think it was a very good move for Josh," Garner explained. "He needed that at this stage of his career and he wanted to go and be the main number nine if you like at a club.

"From my perspective, after seeing Miles Leaburn in pre-season I wanted a pathway for him, I wanted an opportunity for him to be in the first-team squad and for us to develop and grow him as a player. That was a good deal for everyone in terms of the output of that.

“Jack Payne was a player who we’d wanted all through pre-season," he continued. "There has been a lot of interest in him and he had multiple offers, so we’re really pleased to finally get that one agreed.”

Asked about further incomings, Garner said: “I’d still like two, possibly three in. I know the areas that we want to strengthen and we’re working hard on that.

"There’s one player in particular that I’ve tracked and worked on for a long time now, and I’m really hoping that we can get that over the line and get him into the football club. And then there are one or two other positions that I still feel we need to strengthen and we may possibly have to balance the squad a little bit in terms of what we’ve got with higher numbers in certain areas than others.

"We want to get the balance of the squad right, knowing that we’ve got not just a strong starting XI but we’ve got that depth and competition that we want. It’s a long season with lots of games and we need to make sure we’ve got that quality.”

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