Darren Pratley is determined to keep his engine running as he continues to run the Addicks’ midfield at the age of 34.
The experienced engine-roomer has made 25 appearances this term with his fitness levels knowing no bounds, helping Charlton’s young academy graduates alongside him as Lee Bowyer’s side continue to traverse a difficult, injury-ravaged period.
And Pratley shows no signs of slowing down as he looks to rack up as many appearances as possible.
“That’s why I play football,” he said.
“I’m not here to have a rest. It doesn’t matter to me if I’m 34, I want to play as many games as I can.
I’m one of the fittest in the team so, if I’m one of the fittest in the team, I don’t see why I should try and wait for someone to come and take my place.
“When you’re on a run of games and you’re playing week in and week out, you have a rhythm and you get your fitness and you’re not rusty. When you’re in for one and out for three that can be tough. I’m here to try and fight for a shirt like everybody else.
“Believe me, at 34 I’ll still be gutted if I’m not playing,” continued Pratley.
“I don’t show it around the lads but my missus and my little girl know at home when I’m not picked!
“The day I’m not bothered when I don’t play is the day I’ll probably say, ‘That’s enough for me’.
“Like I said, I want to play as many games as I can. I’m not stupid enough to know that when we do get bodies I may have to rest a few and go again.
“It’s tough, but I’ll play until the wheels come off.”
Meanwhile, Pratley is expecting a tough challenge from his former club Fulham when they visit The Valley on Wednesday evening.
“They keep the ball for fun, they are a Premier League team,” he explained.
“It will be a tough game. They have had an extra day’s rest because [they faced Middlesbrough on Friday], they are a very good side. A very, very good side.
“We got a point down at their place and we’re going to have to be at it, but I think our home crowd will help us to try and get something out of it.”