Chris Gunter is itching to get the Addicks’ 2021/22 League One campaign underway having concluded pre-season preparations at Craven Cottage last weekend.
All eyes are now on Saturday’s opening day clash against Sheffield Wednesday at The Valley, with a bumper crowd returning to SE7 for the first time in 17 months.
“I think you get to this stage of pre-season and then you’ve sort of had enough of it,” explained Gunter. “You want the real stuff to start. It’s an important week now obviously building up and all eyes and focus on getting off to a good start.”
“It’s been nice over a couple of the pre-season games where we’ve sort of had a taste of the fans. It’s not quite the same in pre-season; the first game at home is always exciting anyway but, given the experiences we had last year with obviously empty stadiums, Saturday has all the makings to be a really special day.
“Our job is of course to perform and do well, but also to make sure that when the fans leave the stadium they’re walking away thinking that they have really missed it and super excited to see their team and do what they love to do, which is coming to support us. Like I say, in turn, we give them reason to really enjoy the whole day.”
Gunter is anticipating stern opposition in newly-relegated Sheffield Wednesday, though insists Nigel Adkins’ men will focus on themselves.
“A tough game of course,” added the Welshman. “A team that has just come down so you’d expect them to be a strong test. They’ll be looking to probably do what a number of teams are and that’s to be at the top of the table and looking to be involved in the promotion race.
“We’ll look at them and what they do well, but, of course, as we’ve always said it’s about what we do, the things that we’ve been working on. Like I say, hopefully we can get off to a good start and get some momentum built really early on.”
The 32-year-old has started at left-back for Adkins in the final two outings of pre-season at Crystal Palace and Fulham respectively, having been afforded a later return to Sparrows Lane after helping guide Wales to the round of 16 at Euro 2020.
“I don’t mind it [playing left-back],” revealed the most capped Welshman of all time. “It’s something I’ve done a number of times really through my career. There’s always times when different things are needed from players in the squad and I’ve always said as a player whatever role or job you’re asked to do that’s what it is.
“Our job is to make sure that you always give your best and the more players I think you can have in the squad that can do different things then I think that is a bonus for the manager. But certainly one that I don’t have a problem with and I’ve had to use my left foot over the years so just really looking forward to getting off to a good start.”
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