Adkins: "Everything has gone up a notch"

Nigel Adkins has hailed the impact of Charlton’s latest recruits, explaining that the newfound competition for places has raised the standards in training at Sparrows Lane ahead of this weekend’s fixture against Cheltenham Town in SE7.

A busy transfer deadline day saw the club sign Harry Arter, Sam Lavelle and Jonathan Leko, with the subsequent arrivals of free agents Stephen Henderson and Pape Souaré bolstering Adkins’ squad further as signings number 12 and 13 respectively.

“From my point of view I would’ve loved to have been in this situation at the start of pre-season,” admitted the Charlton manager. “As it is we’re starting again because we’ve basically got a whole brand new group. We’ve got a big squad of players now. We’ve got to make sure that there is a pathway there for the youngsters who have done great, so there’s a lot of time and attention going in on that. We’ve obviously got some more senior players in and we’ve got to get them up to speed with the fitness side of things as well and the games. Some players have not played as many games as they’ve needed to go and do so we’ve got to try and get them up to speed. 

“I’m sure if you got a piece of paper and wrote down all of the players we’ve got and said, ‘right, pick a starting 11 from that’. I guarantee that probably 99% of the people who did that wouldn’t pick the same team as I’m going to go and pick. Ultimately we’ve got a group of guys and competition for places drives performance. That’s what we need. 

“I’d like to think we've added real good quality to the group that we’ve already had,” Adkins continued. “For me we’ve got to be thinking, ‘how can we get the performance right to win the next game of football’. We should be stronger in the starting 11 that goes out, we should be stronger in the impact we can make from the bench, we should be stronger to deal with international players being away, for injuries that might come our way and for suspensions that might come our way. We’ve put ourselves in a stronger position which is good. 

“Ultimately trying to put all these pieces of the jigsaw together to get the performance, to get the results is going to be the art,” he explained. "The art is going to be having good conversations with everybody and trying to make sure that everybody feels wanted, are wanted and how we can keep developing on the training ground. I was really pleased with training today, you know when you just have that real good sense that everything has gone up a notch because we’ve got that competition, we’ve got that quality of players coming in. We’ve got the youngsters with their enthusiasm as well. It’s been good this week.”

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Meanwhile, Adkins offered an injury update on Addicks trio Ben Purrington, Jake Forster-Caskey and Alex Gilbey.

“Ben Purrington has trained with us today which has been really good and Alex [Gilbey] has joined in a part of the training session,” revealed Adkins. “Hopefully they'll get a full week's training next week, putting them closer to where we need to get them to.

“I had a good chat with Jake [Forster-Caskey] today, he’s really pleased. He’s started to do a bit of running on the AlterG which is good - obviously that’s an anti-gravity running machine so it’s not the same as running on the grass for example. He’s on track for what he’s doing and his attitude is really good and his mood is good.”

The Charlton manager also provided an update on those returning from international duty with their respective countries, while also reserving particular praise for academy prospect Hady Ghandour. 

“Harry Arter joined up with the group for the first time since we’ve signed him so that was good. He managed to do the initial part of the training session which was good, just for him to get to know the players and everybody. I had a good chat with him as well so I’m delighted with that. 

“Chrissy Gunter was in first thing this morning. He’s just played down in Cardiff. He played the full 90 minutes last night so he’s played a couple of games in the international break plus the trip to play Belarus, which is a long journey. 

“Conor Washington is in as we speak now this afternoon as they didn’t arrive back in the UK from the game he played in last night for Northern Ireland - a good 0-0 draw there. I know Conor scored in the earlier game as well so Ian Baraclough’s Northern Ireland team have done well there getting results.

“Again, the training ground this morning there was a right buzz about the place which is good. It’s what we want to go and see. Conor is in now. We anticipate no issues with that. 

“Then we’ve got Hady Ghandour who has been away with Lebanon. A fantastic, proud day for him, his family and our academy. Everybody has had a role to play in Hady’s development. To go out there, he’s been to South Korea… he’s only just landed back. He’s had a 17-hour journey so he’s going to join back up with us tomorrow. 

“What a fantastic achievement for him,” added Adkins. “A real proud moment and it’s all part of his development as well. Everyone at the football club here has had a role to play in his development and they’ve had a smile on their faces as well.”

The Charlton manager is expecting stern opposition in the form of newly promoted Cheltenham and was full of praise for his adversary, Michael Duff, who is now enjoying his fourth season in charge of the Robins.

“Very much a tough game,” he said. “I’ve watched them myself already this season. They did great last year, they were knocking on the door the year before that. They’ve got a manager who has been in place for several years now at the football club so he’s been able to build something. They've got a way that they play in and out of possession. They’re going to be tough to break down, we’re aware of that. And they’ve got the threats going forward. They’ve done well. 

“There’s no easy games in this division, I think we’ve talked about that. It’s a game of football. Never ever underestimate the opposition. We’ve done our homework, we’ve done our diligence and we’ve worked really hard through the course of our week in our training to prepare ourselves for the game. Then we’ve got to see what we can do during that game.”

The Addicks host Cheltenham Town at The Valley on Saturday. Click here to purchase your ticket.

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