Fleetwood – unbeaten at The Valley

There was general praise for Charlton's performance in defeat against Peterborough on Tuesday evening. There was no lack of commitment or teamwork and the home team might well have been awarded a penalty for handball shortly before the visitors were gifted theirs. Nevertheless, the game continued to underline the alarming lack of depth and experience in the squad and the worry is that, by the time Fosu, Reeves, Clarke and Vetokele are available again to Lee Bowyer, there will be injuries to other key players.

Charlton have only played Fleetwood on four occasions but the record, given the disparity in size between the two clubs, is abysmal - three draws and one win. Both games at The Valley have ended in stalemate - a 90th minute equaliser in February 2017 securing the visitors a point and a 0-0 draw in March of this year which was memorable only for the fact that it was Karl Robinson's final game in charge. Our only victory (1-3) was in September 2017 courtesy of a Tariqe Fosu hat trick. This only serves to remind us how much he is missed at present.

Fleetwood's appointment of Joey Barton as manager in the summer raised a few eyebrows. Barton, who became available after his five match ban for illegal betting expired, was realistic about how many people would be willing him to fail:

“Well, yeah. Probably 30 million, if you split the country in half. If you go to Scotland, it’s probably five million. And there are only five million people in Scotland.“I’m not expecting everybody to be coming out and supporting me. They’ll probably be there with the ­voodoo dolls. That’s life, isn’t it?”

His managerial career began with a 0-1 home defeat to AFC Wimbledon (Joe Pigot the scorer) but he secured his first win at Oxford 2-0 a week later. This was followed by a home draw with Rochdale (2-2). The extraordinary 5-0 win at Scunthorpe on Wednesday evening catapulted them into the top six and put a whole new gloss on Saturday's fixture.

Chris Long (who scored against us for Fleetwood in the 2-2 draw at The Highbury Stadium in September 2016) has returned to the club from Burnley along with Dean Marney. Another new arrival is Ched Evans on a season long loan from Sheffield United where he failed to make an impact last season. His two goals against Scunthorpe took him to four for the season so far. It is likely that Conor McAleny will also make an appearance.

With all the depressing and distressing stuff going on in the background it is essential that Charlton win this match and they really should be capable of doing so. The worry is that, after ten goals in the first four games under Lee Bowyer, the team have only managed eight in the next twelve. Most would settle for a clean sheet on Saturday and a scrappy winner to keep us in the top half of the table.