Bowyer on Vetokele's return to fitness, Parker's debut and Hackett-Fairchild's opportunity

Lee Bowyer could hand a debut to new signing Josh Parker for this weekend’s trip to Fleetwood Town.

The fourth-placed Addicks travel to Highbury Stadium to face a Joey Barton-led side sitting 10th in Sky Bet League One.

When asked, at this morning's press conference, if Parker would make his debut tomorrow, Bowyer said: “It’s a possibility. We’ve got training this morning and we’ll look at where he is.”

In recent weeks Charlton have seen the return to fitness of Josh Cullen, Ben Reeves and George Lapslie and the Addicks boss is pleased he is having to deal with selection headaches. He said: “Our squad is getting stronger now. Our players are getting fitter. We’ve still got three main ones out but it’s a lot better than the seven and eight we had before. I’m happy, it’s competition for places. Now I’m sitting in the room having a headache of who to play, who is best to play, looking at the other teams strengths to see who is best to stop them. It’s a headache I’d rather have than the other one I had not so long ago.”

There will be a return to the squad for striker Igor Vetokele, who hasn’t played since a 2-0 win over Walsall in November, where he suffered a dislocated shoulder.

The striker played 45 minutes for the U23s on Tuesday and Bowyer said: “Igor will be on the bench. Josh Cullen is already back. George Lapslie is back now, he played 90 minutes on Tuesday. Reeco (Hackett-Fairchild) has had a full week’s training under his belt. The back four, nothing has changed there, they are all good. I’m happy with what I have at the moment.”

The departure this week of Karlan Grant, the suspension of Lyle Taylor and with Igor Vetokele only just returning from injury will likely mean Reeco Hackett-Fairchild will be involved in Saturday’s game. 

The 21-year-old impressed as a 65th minute substitute in Saturday’s draw with Peterborough United and Bowyer is hoping for more of the same. He said: “It (the departure of Grant) opens a door for him, like with Karlan. Karlan grabbed it. Reeco has got an opportunity now to step in and grab the opportunity that is in front of him. For a young lad that is all you want. You want that opportunity and then it is down to him.”

Lee Bowyer's full pre-Fleetwood Town press conference will be available on Valley Pass shortly. A half-season pass costs just £30 while a monthly pass is £6.50. Click here to sign-up.

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