Could the 3rd round FA Cup tie against West Bromwich Albion have possibly come at a worse time?
Last year, having disposed of Mansfield in a replay, Charlton were drawn at home to League One promotion rivals Doncaster Rovers in the second round. The team had managed a valuable smash and grab win at Burton Albion on the previous Tuesday and Lee Bowyer made nine changes for the cup tie. Only Naby Sarr and George Lapslie retained their places to appear alongside a rusty Billy Clarke and the likes of Taylor Maloney, Reeco Hackett-Fairchild and Toby Stevenson. It was no surprise that Doncaster eased through 2-0. Bowyer made no apology for his selection decisions - making it perfectly clear that promotion was his priority.
When the rested "first" team were beaten 1-2 at Blackpool the following week there was some grumbling about the wisdom of giving up on the cup so lamely although this was soon forgotten three days later when the team triumphed 2-1 at Portsmouth.
Doncaster went on to reach the fifth round - earning about £360k prize money in the process. But, five months after the cup encounter, Charlton beat them by the narrowest of margins in the play-off semi final. Had Doncaster won the tie and gone on to Wembley there would no doubt have been a further inquest about the Addicks' lack of FA Cup ambition.
This year, in the middle of an acute injury crisis, it is hard to imagine there would be many complaints if Bowyer were to field an entire under 23 team on Sunday. However, he has made it clear that he is not about to make wholesale changes because he doesn't feel it would be fair to thrust the club's kids into that scenario. "That can be when the young lads get a thumping 5-0 or 6-0. It's not fair" he said, adding that "after West Brom I can always give some of the lads a couple of days off to recharge".
The Baggies will also presumably rest some key players as they concentrate on promotion so, with new loan signing Andre Green eligible to play, maybe it will be worth £15 to see the first home game under new ownership.