While one Charlton academy graduate may have contributed to England qualifying for Euro 2016, and a second made his debut for the nation’s U21 side, another break has passed where international football failed to adequately fill the void left by the absence of club football.
For pride was felt as Jonjo Shelvey pulled the strings in England’s midfield, and the club’s finances were boosted by Joe Gomez’s appearances for the young Lions, but it did little to make the two week gap without the Addicks a little tedious.
That especially true given that the result prior to the international window provided a horrible mix of frustration and disappointment. After a superb start to the campaign, Guy Luzon’s side lost their unbeaten run with a scrappy and largely avoidable 2-1 defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers.
So, with a relegation-threatened Rotherham United visiting The Valley, Charlton’s first fixture after the break is arguably ideal. A side who have struggled this far season seem like perfect opposition against who to bounce back from defeat a fortnight ago.
But so too does the quality of opposition, who have made several signings, changed captains and seen doubts emerge about the future of their manager during the last two weeks, place extra pressure on the Addicks. Having largely overachieved against more fancied opposition, they will be expected to win for the first time on Saturday.
Something of a test of character for this new-look Charlton side, both in how they respond to defeat and how they deal with being favourites.
LAST MEETING – CHARLTON ATHLETIC 1-1 ROTHERHAM UNITED
A warning against the complacency that can creep in when a side is expected to record a routine win comes from the last time the Millers came to The Valley.
For a home game against a struggling Rotherham side seemingly offered a fantastic opportunity for Luzon to earn his first win as Charlton boss, and monetarily bring some joy to disillusioned and disheartened supporters.
But the Addicks, in the new head coach’s first game in charge in SE7, were abysmal. Lacking intensity, cohesion or any sort of attacking threat, the win that Jordan Cousins’ scrappy late goal might have given them would have been unjust.
That the visitors deserved at least a point, however, did little to limit the anger and depression as Danny Ward turned in Adam Hammill’s delivery to level the scores in stoppage time. With the desperate defeat to Norwich City still to come, things were to get worse before they got better.
That Steve Evans has been forced to change his captain just five league games into the new season shows how poorly his Rotherham side have begun.
But while stripping former Charlton loanee Greg Halford of the armband could have a detrimental effect on team morale, making such a strong and decisive call so early in the campaign could have the opposite impact.
A change in fortunes under new skipper Lee Frecklington is certainly needed, with the Millers sitting bottom of the league with just one point, earned in a goalless draw with Preston North End.
Otherwise, preventing goals from going in has proved a difficult task for Evans’ side. Their defence being breached on 13 occasions in the other four fixtures this season, which is something that will excite Charlton’s potentially potent attack.
That their unbeaten start to the campaign was ended on the eve of the international break has tainted an impressive first month of the campaign for the Addicks.
For while they were dominant against QPR, resilient against Derby County, and spirited against Hull City, their efforts at Molineux in the defeat to Wolves were a little lacklustre. Attacking threat minimal, and defensive cohesion, with two incredibly sloppy goals conceded, less than perfect for the first time in 2015/16.
So while there is no sense in taking anything away from Charlton’s excellent start to the campaign against tough opposition, a response to the defeat in the midlands is required on Saturday.
The Millers will be able to call upon a trio of a new signings for the first time at The Valley on Saturday.
Experienced goalkeeper Lee Camp, signed after terminating his contract with Bournemouth, is likely to start in goal, while Tony Andreu and Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe, having both signed on loan from Norwich, will be pushing for a place in midfield.
Elsewhere, Joe Mattock is expected to be fit after playing for the development squad in midweek, while former Addick Frazer Richardson has recovered from a knock sustained in the defeat to Fulham.
Having used the international break to recover from injury, Tony Watt will be available for Charlton on Saturday.
But the talismanic forward, who missed three games prior to the two week gap, may not be fit enough to start.
And there are similar doubts over Simon Makienok, brought off after suffering a knock against Wolves, and Igor Vetokele, having made his first league appearance at Molineux, meaning Luzon will need to utilise his forwards wisely.
Stephen Henderson remains a few weeks away, as does Franck Moussa after his return for the U21s in midweek, while Cristian Ceballos and Reza Ghoochannejhad will also be absent through injury.
KEY BATTLE: CHARLTON’S WIDE MEN V ROTHERHAM’S FULL-BACKS
Against MK Dons, three goals were conceded from crosses, and one from Carl Baker breaking into the box from a wide position. Nottingham Forest scored twice when deliveries from out wide were not dealt with. Two of QPR’s four goals came as a result of a winger beating a full-back.
And when you add the two goals, and one penalty won, scored by Fulham from moves that exploited the channels, it’s evident that Rotherham have a bit of an issue with defending crosses.
In part, it’s a consequence of a lack of pace in the full-back positions, with wingers able to beat the likes of Richardson, Mattock and Lewis Buxton.
But so too have the Millers left opposition forwards in far too much space in the middle. So many of the goals conceded from crosses finished by a player who had no pressure applied to him whatsoever.
And with the Addicks possessing a threat out wide, especially through Johann Berg Gudmundsson, and 6’7 Makienok waiting in the box to finish off the chances created, Rotherham are unlikely to get away with another weekend of failing to deal with wide deliveries.
Rotherham, with their skipper swap and signings, will be rejuvenated, but hard to see beyond a routine Charlton win. Charlton Athletic 2-0 Rotherham United.