Bowyer: "Let's build on positive start"

Lee Bowyer is keen to build on last Saturday’s positive start as the Addicks prepare to take on Queen Park Rangers in the first behind-closed-doors game on home soil at The Valley.

Speaking in his weekly pre-match press conference via Zoom on Thursday afternoon, the boss discussed the next steps his side will need to take after gaining those first three points, preparing to play at an empty Valley and Saturday’s opponents, as well as providing an injury update.

“It’s been a positive start, but there will be more twists and turns before the end,” said Bowyer on building on the victory over the Tigers last weekend.

“What we need to do is take this positivity into the next game and try and bring ourselves out of this stickiness as soon as we can.

“That three points is going to make a big difference to us on confidence. It maybe just shows that we aren’t a bad side, because we weren’t on the best of runs. But we’ve come back looking good and, hopefully, we can pick up more wins like we did at the weekend.

“I always believe in my players. We didn’t just become a bad side overnight, there was a reason we were in that bottom three. It wasn’t through lack of trying, it was out of our control, the amount of injuries we had, it just wasn’t possible to compete and win enough games.

“That isn’t the case now. We’ve got a squad that I believe is strong enough to keep our heads above water. On Saturday, the players showed that and they were outstanding.”

Saturday will see Bowyer’s side play their first game at an empty Valley and he insists that his players will be well prepared for experience.

“We’ll prepare the best we can and make things as realistic as possible,” he explained.

 We’ve played a couple of training games at The Valley so we know what it’ll be like. The most important thing is the result.

“We have to adapt to all the changes and, hopefully, it doesn’t go on for too long. The most important thing, for me, is the fans. Football isn’t the same without the fans being there.

“It’ll be strange playing in an empty Valley, but the players will know what to expect. The most important thing is that it’s not alien to them, and they’re not experiencing these things for the first time. They experienced it with the training games and last weekend would have helped, whether it’s home or away, it helps to adapt to those circumstances. 

On Saturday’s opponents, Bowyer expects a tough challenge against a side who are full of threats.

“They’ve got some excellent players,” he said.

“The winger that came on when we went up there, he came on, made the difference and helped them get in front when we were on top at the time. Young Eze in the middle of the park can make a goal from nothing and see passes. Then there’s the big fella up top, Hugill, who is a threat.

“But again, if we can look after their main threats and do what we’re good at, then we will pose a threat. So, I think it will be quite an even game. Barnsley had a great result against them last week, so hopefully we can do the same.”

Meanwhile, Bowyer provided an injury update with a clean bill of health following last weekend’s success at Hull, with Andre Green and Jake Forster-Caskey returning from niggles, as well as George Lapslie following the birth of his first child.

“We picked up a couple of knocks in the friendlies that we played – Lewis Page and Matt Smith – so they’re still out, but not long term. They’re the only two injuries that we have, so we’re looking OK.”

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