Jackson: "We have to finish the season strong"

Johnnie Jackson spoke ahead of this weekend's fixture against Sunderland as he reflected on the latest injury news, last Saturday's defeat and his future at Charlton as he begins to prepare for next season.

Going into Saturday’s game, the Addicks have won just one of their last six fixtures. Last weekend’s defeat against Sheffield Wednesday saw six first-team players missing from the squad, including three forwards, as well as the withdrawal of Adam Matthews with a concussion during the game.

“There is no hiding from the fact that we have a lot of lads out," said the boss.

"A lot of important figures within the team and a lot of lads in that striker position, there is no getting away with it and the players will know that too. It does make it more difficult but you have to get on with the job; you can try and find excuses for everything but at the end of the day the ones that are picked have to go out there and do the job. They can’t being worrying about who is missing and what we haven’t got, they have to try and step up."

Matthews was substituted after just half an hour at Hillsborough after picking up a head injury, but Jackson revealed he may be available again come Saturday.

“Adam has to follow the concussion protocols which he has done.

"He has to come through all of those - he had an integrated training session today and will train fully with the group tomorrow so, all being well with that, he is available."

Some positive news from Saturday’s loss was the return of top scorer Jayden Stockley, who came on at half-time for Albie Morgan having not featured for the Addicks since their 1-0 defeat at Plymouth Argyle back in December. 

“Jayden came through the 45 with no issues," said Jackson.

"I'm really pleased with that, obviously it was a bit longer then what we intended with him but the state of the game and nature of the scoreline meant that we had to introduce him at half-time. He has come through fine and had a good weeks training as well. He is available for us, whether that’s starting or coming off the bench - that is something we need to look at. 

Midfielder Scott Fraser had also been sidelined for a few weeks having tested positive for Covid and came on for the final 20 minutes in South Yorkshire.

"It's the same with Scotty Fraser," Jackson revealed.

"He was still feeling the effects after he came on the pitch. He found it tough the first 10 minutes to catch his breath - the Covid has had an effect on him. But he has had a good week training, every day he has got stronger.

"Again, he is available, it's just what we decide to do with him - whether we start him or hold him back and build up his minutes up from the bench."

Meanwhile, two further attacking options in Conor Washington and Chuks Aneke have also been sidelined of late, with Jackson providing an update on the duo.

“Conor is the closer of the two, hopefully we'll have him back before too long. Chuks is longer, we won’t see him back for a while yet."

Saturday’s opponents Sunderland have picked up just one win in seven games, although the Black Cats claimed a 3-0 victory over promotion candidates Wigan Athletic at the weekend. However, Jackson will be looking to claim another three points over Sunderland after kicking off his caretaker reign with a 1-0 victory on Wearside back in October.

“The game at their place is something we have spoken about a lot this week. It's a performance that we look back on and think that we did some really good things there. Obviously, many things have changed since then, we have a few players out and they have had a change of manager.

"We’ll be looking back at the game thinking, this is what we did last time, can we go there and challenge and do it again."

Meanwhile, in an interview with BBC London this week, Owner Thomas Sandgaard stated that Jackson was part of his long-term plans for the club and the Addicks manager was asked if that reassurance makes him more relaxed as he begins to prepare for next season.

“I take defeat badly because it is in my nature, I don’t like losing, I don’t like this run that we are on, it hurts," he explained.

"Despite all the circumstances around it, it hurts to lose football matches. The bigger picture is we have to finish the season strong, we have to get that positivity back amongst the fanbase, give them something to shout about and then it’s going to be a massive job in the summer. 

“I’d like to think I am going to be judged for what we do in the summer, how we start next season and ultimately what we do with the aim of promotion. This season hasn’t been what we have wanted and we're on a bit of a down moment now, but we want to turn that around and finish the season strong with all eyes on next season.

"Having the backing of the owner is obviously great. What you ask for as a manager is backing and time - they are the two things you want. Getting that right in the summer, having a pre-season which I haven’t had with the group will be key moving forward, getting the recruitment right and having a good go at it next season.

“You don’t start it in June or July, you start it now. You look at the holes you have in your squad, how you want to fill them and who with. From now until the end of the season we will be working hard on winning games, but also working hard on planning for the future and the best way of taking the club forward.”

(Article by Alex Forrest)

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