This Saturday, Charlton kick off a challenging February with the first of two encounters with Derby County.
In addition, they will host Portsmouth and travel to Bolton, so points will be at a premium over the next few weeks with the games against Lincoln and Reading looking the most likely to bear fruit.
After their relegation last season, as a result of points deduction, Derby made a slow start in League One and it wasn't until December that they took their place in the top six. During that month they won five games out of six - including away wins at Oxford (3-2), Wigan (1-0) and Leyton Orient (3-0); at home they saw off Lincoln (3-1), Fleetwood (3-0) and drew 1-1 with Wycombe.
However, January was not so impressive and, although this may be straw-clutching, there are maybe some encouraging signs. They lost at home to Peterborough and away to Reading and struggled to overcome Burton and Cheltenham at home. Nevertheless they arrive at The Valley in fourth place with goals scored (52) and goal difference (+24) being bettered only by Peterborough.
They will also be bringing their new signing - Corey Blackett-Taylor. Although the status of his departure from SE7 is a loan, he will be eligible to play against us. He came on as a substitute after 63 minutes of the defeat at Reading and after starting the Cheltenham game, he was substituted after 64 minutes. After his departure, his team mates turned a 0-1 deficit into a 2-1 win. We can safely say that he hasn't set the place alight yet and, as a player who thrives on confidence, it may take a little while before he gets into top gear. He has said that he is relishing Saturday's return to The Valley and he revealed it was long-time friend and now team-mate Nathaniel Mendez-Laing who played a key role in convincing him that Pride Park was the place to take the next step in his career.
"He was part of the whole transfer. We spoke a lot and he was trying to get me to come. He was saying we can almost help each other in games - he will be doing damage on one wing and I will be doing damage on the other."
One player we are unlikely to see on Saturday is Conor Washington who joined Derby from Rotherham last summer; he damaged two ankle ligaments on international duty with Northern Ireland in November and is not yet fit to return.
Derby will fill the Jimmy Seed Stand and will provide loud support. Our defence continues to look very fragile and Ashley Maynard-Brewer, Lucas Ness and Lloyd Jones all had some very jittery moments up at Blackpool. Curtis Fleming may well make some changes at the back but it will be quite a shock if we are able to keep a clean sheet after all this time.
Nevertheless, it is worth remembering our last two home games against The Rams. In October 2019 we beat them 3-0 with Conor Gallagher announcing his arrival with that spectacular goal from the edge of the area. Last season they battered us from the outset and missed some excellent chances but we stole the win with a tap-in from our winger after an Albie Morgan shot had been palmed out to him. Let's just hope Corey doesn't repeat the feat.