Nigel Adkins praised the ‘fight’ and ‘spirit’ of his players as the Addicks prepare to host Portsmouth at The Valley on Saturday.
Speaking in his weekly press conference on Thursday afternoon ahead of the clash with Pompey, the Charlton boss was encouraged by what his side put on display during the draw at Gillingham on Tuesday evening and believes it provides the base for the Addicks to kickstart their season as his squad begins to come together in terms of fitness.
“In my opinion, I was very excited about how we performed in the first half [on Tuesday],” said Adkins.
“People might have contrasting opinions on where things are, but for me, I’ve seen a team who are having a right go for each other.
“We competed, we had a spirit and a fight about ourselves. We played really good, exciting football in the first half, we kept the ball for good spells in the second half, we created chances and the keeper has made some wonderful saves. We showed a passion to fight for each other which is important.
“We’ve played some good football this season, we may not have had the rub of the green, but there are so many players we can talk about having good performances.
"You’ve seen a fight about the players, landing on second balls – there’s a fight about them.
"Come the end of the season, I know we’ll have a real good set of players who will go out and have a go for each other.”
Meanwhile, Adkins discussed the recent rotation of his squad with games beginning to come thick and fast as he looks to manage the minutes of some of his key players.
“We’ve got a lot of games so teams do rotate their squads as they go,” he explained.
“We’ve got a big squad of players now, but we’ve got a squad with players at varying levels of fitness. We’ve gone into the last couple of games knowing that there are some players who we need to get onto the pitch, but can only play half an hour or so as they are at a massive risk of injury because they’re just coming back.
“But as games go on now, we’re delighted that we can get more game time and fitness into players. We’ve got a strong group of players who have the bit between their teeth at the moment. We’ve got competition for places which is important because it should drive performance and we’ve got a group of guys who want to do well for each other. That was demonstrated in abundance the other night.”
Adkins also discussed Saturday’s opposition and what threat they will pose come 3pm on Saturday afternoon.
“[Portsmouth] have changed their formation in the last two games to match their opposition’s formation,” explained Adkins.
“They look to play out from the goalkeeper [Gavin Bazunu], who is exceptional by the way, he starred for the Republic of Ireland recently. He distributes the ball very well and plays like an outfield player.
“They’re very expansive in how they try and build play, so that makes them very dangerous and we have to understand that, at times, they’re going to have good possession of the football. But likewise, we’ve got to make sure we get the ball and give them a threat.
“We’ve got threats about our team so we’ve got to make sure that 1. We’re good defensively to get the ball off them and 2. When we’ve got the ball, we make sure we give ourselves an opportunity to go and score goals and be exciting in our play.”
Finally, the Valley boss provided a positive fitness update on Ben Purrington and Alex Gilbey who both received their first minutes of the season in midweek, but will be monitoring Conor Washington after he took a knock at Priesrfield Stadium.
“Conor came off the other day, but he’s been back in and is responding well to treatment. Jake Forster-Caskey, Ryan Inniss and Ronnie Schwartz are our only long-term injuries.
“We’re delighted that Ben Purrington played 90 minutes and had no ill-effects from that point of view. We’re also delighted that Alex Gilbey got back on the pitch. He got a shot off and showed the attributes that he brings to the team as well.”