Shrewsbury again

For the third time in four league games Charlton face Shrewsbury this Saturday.

It is hard to recall an opening day fixture being greeted with less enthusiasm from supporters than this one. The optimism which normally surrounds the first home kick off of the season is in short supply. A squad which is numerically thin has been further depleted by injuries. The best hope for transfer deadline day would seem to be hanging on to players rather than strengthening the squad by bringing in reinforcements. The take over seems as far away as ever and the level of demoralisation among fans is evidenced by increasing in-fighting.

Nevertheless at 3pm on Saturday the sparse crowd will be keen to show their support for the eleven on the pitch and however many substitutes we can muster. It may even be that a siege mentality is created similar to the one which saw the 10 man team home against Bristol Rovers last year. If we go behind it will be vital that the despondency of the crowd doesn't further undermine the players.

Both teams will be very different from those that met in the play-off semi final. Shrewsbury kicked off last week with a home defeat to Bradford with only four of their May team in the starting line up. Most significantly, however, they began the campaign without their inspirational manager Paul Hurst whose achievements saw him snapped up by Ipswich Town in the summer. Last week he returned to Shropshire to sign up John Nolan and Toto Nsaila and take them off to Suffolk with him. His replacement John Askey (who guided Macclesfield to promotion last season) has signed Luke Waterfall from Lincoln and Ollie Norburn from Tranmere and secured the loans of Charlie Colkett from Chelsea and Greg Docherty from Rangers.

Charlton's performance at Sunderland last week was laudable but there can be no doubt that a lack of strength on the bench meant that they ran out of steam in the second half and were on the back foot. There is no reason to think it will be any better on Saturday with the likely absence of Jason Pearce only adding to the problem.

We live in hope.