After extending his loan deal until the end of the 2019/20 campaign, Josh Cullen is looking forward to the last nine games of the Championship season.
The midfielder, whose season-long loan from West Ham United was initially due to expire at the end of June, explained how the decision to finish the season with Charlton was an easy one.
He said: “It’s strange, there was never a massive decision to make. I knew that as long as the season did get finished, I’d be finishing it with Charlton. It’s been a long journey since my loan last season. We weren’t fancied for promotion by many and we did it. Now it’s my job to do the best I can to help us stay in the league.
“I’ve enjoyed my time at Charlton, loved every minute of it.I feel like I owe it to the people at the club; the fans that backed me from day one and been brilliant, the manager and the staff, everyone around the club – the lads are all fighting for the same goal. I’m looking forward to get started again and finish what we started together.”
Cullen was full of praise for his teammates, who had been keeping themselves fit during lockdown with a personalised training regime from the Charlton coaches and returned to training, initially with non-contact exercises.
“The first non-contact part of training was strange but we’re getting there now. Credit to the lads really. We had a long time off and everyone had to motivate themselves to put the work in at home, go on runs and get our fitness up. Our fitness levels are looking good. The football side of things we’ve crammed in. The sessions have been brilliant, high quality. We are raring to go now with full focus on Hull, preparing for that and the final games.” He said.
The Addicks return to action at the KCOM Stadium against Hull City on June 20th, a game that will take place behind closed doors, with no fans allowed in the stadium due to the government restrictions.
Cullen said: “I don’t think anyone will know how it will feel behind open doors until the games start. We’ve had a few practice matches but you can’t quite create the atmosphere of a competitive game. Like against Hull, considering the positions in the league and factors that go into that. It comes down to when you step over the line, 11 v 11 and we have to try and be the better team and get the result at the end of the day whether that’s in front of a crowd or not.
“Everyone involved in the game; players, managers and fans, probably take the fact that we can all get together on a Saturday for a game as granted. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that we first got into the game for our love and passion of football, that’s shared by everyone in the stadium. We’re buzzing to get back and doing what we love again. We’re approaching it full of confidence and relishing the challenge that we’ve got ahead. It’s full steam ahead to get as many points as we can.”
Whilst the 24-year-old believes that the fans give the team an extra incentive, he is confident that the players will still be motivated whilst playing for the fans at home.
“As a group we have to find the extra motivations that our fans give us, they’re brilliant. In the changing room before the game we have to be pumped up for this and raring to go. It’s a level playing field for everyone, nobody has done it before.”
One of the last nine games of the season sees the Addicks face London rivals Millwall at The Valley, which has been selected for television coverage. Josh Cullen explained how the team are not looking too far ahead of them but know how much the derby means to the fans watching at home.
“We always think about just the next game. The full focus is on Hull for now. When the Millwall game comes around we’ll be ready for that and treat it as a normal game,” he explained.
“The backing from our fans in the reverse fixture was a special occasion. It’s down to us players to get each other going. Whether we beat them in front of a crowd or behind closed doors, I’m sure it’ll mean as much to the fans., Every game is important and we have to play for the fans and do it for them even if they’re not present in the stadium.”
Article by Nick Emms