There’s been plenty of chat recently about whether Lee Bowyer deserves to be at The Valley next season, but what of the players? Below we consider the future of every player in Charlton’s senior squad.
A shocking run of form during which Charlton have picked up just 14 of a possible 45 points has led to many fans calling for Bowyer’s head. He can’t take full responsibility though, and in a recent Twitter poll 61% of fans said they felt the players were more to blame than the boss. Whether Bowyer is in charge this summer or not, it’s clear there needs to be a clearout of the dead wood which litters the squad. How many of the current crop will still be at the club come August?
The following assumes that Charlton won’t be promoted this season. Which, let’s be honest, isn’t happening.
Let’s start with the players currently on loan in SE7. Obviously, chances are that they will all return to their parent clubs and their Charlton journey will come to an end. But as shown with the recent signing of Andrew Shinnie, loan deals can be made permanent on occasion. It’s always fun to dream, isn’t it.
Despite the above, it’s very likely that the youngsters will all return to their respective ‘big six’ clubs before being shipped out somewhere else on loan next season. Liam Millar has impressed during his short spell at The Valley and has likely earned himself a move to a Championship club. Ian Maatsen enjoyed a promising start but his defensive liabilities have since been exposed and recently he’s lost his place to Ben Purrington – another season in the lower leagues beckons. Matt Smith has curiously not enjoyed too much game time as of yet, considering he was recalled by Arsenal from Swindon to bolster Bowyer’s midfield. What little fans have seen of him has hardly got them off their feet.
Then things get slightly more interesting. Akin Famewo has impressed, there’s no doubt about it. He was an integral part of Charlton’s six clean sheets on the bounce (yes, that really happened this season) and has looked assured since his return from injury despite chaos all around him. His parent club Norwich City look a sure thing for promotion back to the Premier League and despite being just 22, Famewo may well be surplus to requirements at Carrow Road. He still has two years left on his contract so Sandgaard would have to get his wallet out. It’s a long shot, but one that fans would love to see happen.
An even more interesting possibility is Jayden Stockley. Four headed goals in his first seven games for his new club have seen him become an instant fan-favourite. Stockley never seems to lose a header, in the opposition’s box as well as his own. His parent club Preston North End signed Ched Evans in January and allowed Stockley to seek more playing time at The Valley, showing they may not see him in their future plans. Stockley would certainly be warmly welcomed by Charlton fans if he were to sign permanently and with just one year remaining on his contract, he may not cost the world.
The Contracted Players
Just because some players have another year or more left on their current deal, doesn’t mean they deserve to stay for the duration. Two that probably will stay despite failing to impress as of yet, are Ronnie Schwartz and Diallang Jaiyesimi. Schwartz has been underwhelming since his long awaited move from FC Midtjylland in January, but it can take a while to adjust to English football. A fee was paid and his deal runs until 2023, so it’s doubtful Charlton will be cutting their losses on Ronnie just yet. DJ is another that Sandgaard paid a fee for in January and he’s tied down on an even longer contract. He hasn’t exactly hit the ground running but he is young and there’s plenty of time for that particular signing to come good.
Albie Morgan has been used sparingly this season with just 10 starts to his name, but the 21-year-old has shown real promise for a number of years now and is definitely one for the future. With two years remaining on his contract, he’ll be going nowhere. Another youngster with two years left on his current deal is Charlie Barker. The 18-year-old did an admirable job at the beginning of the season at centre-half when the squad was very thin in that position. Since reinforcements came in he’s dropped back to the under-23s, but fans were encouraged by what they saw during his run in the side.
Seven goals in 20 League One starts is not a bad return by any means, and Conor Washington has probably done enough to warrant staying at the club next season. He’s not a 20-goal-a-season striker but he’s a good second or third option. Another forward who should be returning next year is Josh Davison, who scored four goals on loan at National League Woking, and has since started life in League Two well with two goals in four starts for Forest Green Rovers.
At the back, Ben Purrington has once again proven he’s a solid left-back at this level and after helping Charlton win promotion once before, he should get another opportunity next season. If Ryan Inniss didn’t get injured back in November, Charlton’s season could well have panned out very differently. While he can’t be relied upon to play every game next year, when he does play he will only improve the side.
Two contracted players who may well be moved on in the summer are Chris Gunter and Alex Gilbey. Despite playing more minutes than any other outfield player this year, Gunter hasn’t overly impressed fans, although this may come down to regularly playing out of position. With a year remaining on his deal Gunter could stick around another season, but fans wouldn’t be too sad to see him go. The same could be said for Gilbey, who has massively failed to live up to expectations this season. Injuries have hampered him and if rumours are to be believed he has struggled to settle in at The Valley due to still living in Milton Keynes. Gilbey will need to show the form which made him MK Dons’ back-to-back Player of the Year if he wishes to stay at the club.
The Free Agents
We’ll start with those who should definitely be offered new deals. Despite not always being able to start, Chuks Aneke is top scorer for a reason and has looked comfortably Chartlon’s most potent goal threat for the majority of the season. Jake Forster-Caskey has been the most impressive midfielder all season and many are calling for him to be named club captain next year. Andrew Shinnie’s loan deal was made permanent last month, and he has shown a real creative spark that is often missing at The Valley. Second choice goalkeeper Ashley Maynard-Brewer is young and has shown promise, although a loan spell to give him regular first team football next season may do him good. Those four all deserve new deals.
Three players have given their all this year but it is clear that their powers are starting to wane. Darren Pratley and Jason Pearce have been brilliant servants for the club, but at 36 and 33 respectively by the time the new season starts, it looks like their time at the club may have come to an end. Ben Watson will also be 36 this summer, and quite simply hasn’t looked good enough at all. Erhun Oztumer and Marcus Maddison are both currently plying their trade elsewhere, and neither will ever play for Charlton again. Oztumer never really played to his full potential for The Addicks and Maddison seems to have one of the worst attitudes of any footballer ever to play for the club. These five will all move on this summer.
That leaves five players who are out of contract this summer that require a bit more thought. James Vennings and Ben Dempsey seem to be highly thought of and will likely be offered short term deals and sent out on loan to gain more experience. Ben Amos’s form has stuttered in recent weeks, dropping below his usual high standards. He has shown himself to be a good goalkeeper at this level though, and has probably earned a new deal. Another who has just about done enough is Adam Matthews. He hasn’t been given a proper run in the side, but if Gunter is to leave Matthews could well be the starting right-back next year. Deji Oshilaja seems to be brilliant one week and then a calamity waiting to happen the next. He certainly has potential, but he’s just not consistent enough for a side that will be aiming for promotion next year.
This would leave Bowyer, or whoever may be in charge when the transfer window opens, 16 players in his squad – five of which would likely be sent out on loan or be playing for Jason Euell’s under-23s. It’s going to be a busy summer once again in terms of incomings and outgoings, but this time Charlton have an owner who should provide the funds needed to build a title-winning squad. If Stockley and Famewo were targets number one and two then it would be a huge bonus.
Potential 2021/22 squad: