Here we go again, the dreaded bleep tests have been run, the replica kit has been bought, the signings have been made, it’s time for another season of football in England. That may sound like it’s a chore, but it’s far from it. It’s quite the opposite. What a delight it will be to see Charlton Athletic in the second tier of football for the first time in three seasons, and the first season in a while which is being entered off the back of some optimism. Sure, the summer hasn’t been smooth and some of the optimism has vanished, but there is still a distinct lack of negativity. If anything, there’s a healthy amount of realism. Yes, this season will be tough but we’re unlikely to be in any serious trouble.
Birmingham Team News
The toughness of the Championship is epitimised in the first game, with last season’s play-off semi-finalists Birmingham City the challenge for The Addicks. New manager Lee Clarke has been quick to strengthen his squad in the hope that promotion will be achieved with Hayden Mullins, Peter Lovenkrands and former Addick Darren Ambrose all signing up, whilst the services of the stars of last term have been maintained. They’ve got the perfect mix of youth and experienced with new England star Jack Butland and U19 international Nathan Redmond schooled by the likes of Curtis Davies and Chris Burke. The only real injuWhatever team they decide to go with, they’ll be another 11 who will be disappointed to be missing out.
Charlton Team News
Charlton go into the game with doubts over Danny Haynes, whilst Andy Hughes and young keeper Nick Pope are two definite absentees. Their absence wont affect the starting XI though, with Ben Hamer starting in goal and Danny Hollands taking the holding midfield role. Stephens or Pritchard will partner him, with Jackson on the left and Wagstaff likely to start on the right. Pritchard may himself may start on the right if Powell decides to go with the team that beat Fulham last week. That will see Solly, Cort, Morrison and Taylor at the back with Bradley Wright-Phillips and Kermorgant starting upfront. New signings Dervite, Cook, Wilson and Kerkar will all be in the bench and be looking to make an impact late on.
Prediction: Birmingham 1-1 Charlton
The Addicks will be outplayed, or at least they should be on paper, but the spirit of the team and momentum from last season will play a part in a gritty draw.