On the eve of the Championship’s long-awaited restart, Lee Bowyer insists that his players will grasp the pressure of the last nine games with togetherness being the key to the Addicks’ survival.
Charlton head to Hull City on Saturday for a crunch game at the bottom of the table and Bowyer, who is in confident mood, sees the final nine games as a ‘mini league’ for his side to navigate towards maintaining their Championship status.
“We have nine game and it’s like a mini-league,” he explained.
“If we can hit the ground running like we did at the start of the season, we’ll have a good chance, and there’s no reason why we can’t.
“It’s going to be tough, there’s no getting away from that. But, as a group, we have a good togetherness and a good fighting spirit. We’ve been under pressure before – last season we would have learnt a lot under pressure situations. Some teams, once we get to the nitty gritty, won’t be able to handle the pressure. That’s just natural.
“Some will grasp it and some will fade away from the pressure. I believe we have the players to grasp that pressure. We have got some good older heads in the dressing room and we’ve got some youngsters that can go and play with no fear. Having no crowd might help the youngsters – they have nothing to prove and they’ll get on the ball and make things happen, and those experienced heads can help guide them through it.”
“There will be times that it will be tough,” continued Bowyer.
“We won’t win every game, so it’s about how we react after we lose a game and how we stick together. I believe that we have enough. We’ll just need a bit of luck and all teams will need a bit of luck.”
After the lengthy break in play, teams have only been back training for three weeks and Bowyer believes that the unusual circumstances will play its part in forthcoming games throughout the league and hopes that his side can capitalise on that.
“Games are going to go either way,” he said.
“There will be mistakes and tiredness, a lot of factors that people aren’t used to. We just need to be aware of that and try not to make the mistakes that others will.
“There is going to be a lot of strange things happen between now and the end of the season. Obviously, us losing players has not helped, but I think all the teams up and down the country are going to lose players at some stage, whether it’s through injuries or players refusing to turn out. It will affect all teams at some point.”
The Addicks will be without Lyle Taylor, Chris Solly and David Davis for the restart, but Saturday’s opponents have also been hit by a number of players who are refusing to continue and Bowyer feels that it was an advantage to get the situation dealt with in plenty of time before play recommenced.
“It’s not a good situation to be in,” said the Addicks boss.
“It’s difficult for the manager and I feel for Grant. He’s a nice fella and we get on well.
“For it to happen now, it can disrupt things. That was the whole point of me finding out when we first came back, who was going to be there to play games and who wasn’t. I wanted to get it out in the open and know what squad we’d have going forwards so there was no disruption in the weeks building up to the return.
“Obviously, it’s happened to Hull later and it could disrupt things, but it may not. It might pull them closer together, we won’t know.”