Experienced Crofts happy to help out and advise Addicks youngsters

George Jones reports

Andrew Crofts says that he is more than happy to offer his experience and advice to Charlton’s younger players.

The 32-year-old, who has racked up 449 games in his professional career, including 30 this season, bagged our 89th-minute equaliser against Southend United on New Year’s Eve.

He was joined in the middle of midfield in that game by Fredrik Ulvestad and Joe Aribo, who was making his full league debut, and it was the latter that laid on his leveller.

And Crofts was full of praise for his fledgling, engine-room companion and insists that he’ll do everything he can to keep the likes of Aribo pushing in the right direction.

“Joe was full on enthusiasm and I was buzzing for him,” he said. “For me, to see young players come through, I love seeing that and I was obviously in their shoes once.

“He thrived on his opportunity. He’s got plenty of energy, a lot of quality and he was unfortunate not to score when he hit the bar. Saying that, he probably should’ve played me in at the far post for a free header… and I’ve told him that!

“Joe got the assist for the goal and it was a great debut from him. He’s got a bright future if he keeps his feet on the ground, which he will because he’s a great kid.”

Crofts continued: “We have got so many good talents here and if you can steer them in the right direction then they’ll flourish; it’s down to the experienced pros like myself to help them.

“I know what it’s like as a young player, you have one or two good games and you might get carried away a bit. We don’t have that here, though. I love helping to guide the youngsters, keep driving them on and pushing them in the right direction.”

Crofts’ goal – a crashing volley that bounced in off the underside of the bar – was his first competitive strike for the club. He was pleased to get off the mark and believes that the draw it secured his side was deserved.

He said: “The point was definitely deserved. Over the 90 minutes, we might just have edged it and I think their goalkeeper got Man of the Match, which sums it up a little bit.

“We were disappointed to go 1-0 down because at that time we were on top. But it shows the spirit of the boys, we kept going, kept believing and to nick a goal at the end is always nice.

“We had to make sure that we kept ourselves in the game after going behind. We done that, kept digging in, and then we hit the bar, the keeper has made a couple of good saves and we felt that it was coming.

“The later it goes, the less likely it is to come but to pop up with the equaliser at the end was great.

“It’s a sign of a good team when you score late goals. It’s a decent point in the end and it’ll be even better if we can win on Monday.”

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