Charlton Athletic 2021/22 Season Preview: Play-Offs the minimum aim for Nigel Adkins’ side

3 min

As the new season dawns, Charlton Athletic fans will be looking in anticipation to manager Nigel Adkins as he embarks on his first full season in charge.

There’s no doubting Adkins’ experience and success in this division, having achieved promotion three times with Scunthorpe (twice) and Southampton and he has quickly set about putting his own identity on the squad this summer.

The most noticeable departure is goalkeeper Ben Amos to promotion rivals Wigan although the Addicks have arguably signed a better replacement in Craig MacGillivray after his contract at Portsmouth expired.

Last season’s top scorer Chuks Aneke has also departed, who, despite scoring 15 goals last term, was not a regular starter with the 28-year-old linking up again with former manager Lee Bowyer at Birmingham City.

On the flip side, the permanent signing of Jayden Stockley from Preston North End offers a more consistent option and should fellow forward Conor Washington remain injury-free, could form a strong partnership with the Northern Irishman.

Veteran Darren Pratley has also left for neighbouring Leyton Orient and, while there was no argument with his leadership and experience, his disciplinary record did impact a number of results as the rigours of League One football slowly appeared to catch-up with him.

In his place is George Dobson, a consistent League One player who earned rave reviews at Walsall but didn’t quite hit it off at Sunderland before once again impressing at AFC Wimbledon last season.

As Charlton unsuccessfully pushed for the Play-Offs last season, creative midfielder Jake Forster-Caskey’s ACL injury sustained towards the end of the campaign hindered their chances and with this in mind, Adkins has brought in Sean Clare on a two-year deal from Oxford United. 

Clare previously played with Washington at Hearts and perhaps would have stayed with the Edinburgh side had they not been relegated in the curtailed 2019-20 season.

There has also been key business in retaining the services of Jason Pearce and Ben Watson on additional one-year contracts as well securing another season loan for centre-back Akin Famewo.

However, if there is one disappointment this summer, it has been Charlton’s inability to retain the services of Chelsea loanee Ian Maatsen.

The youngster showed incredible promise last season as either a left wing back or winger and has joined Championship side Coventry on loan.

With fellow loanee Liam Millar also signing on elsewhere, options in the wide positions are limited – something Adkins will need to resolve to provide much-needed ammunition for a forward line that at times lacked prolificacy last season.

It may be a cliche, but the return of fans to The Valley will also act as a 12th Man this term.

Without crowds, Charlton’s home and away form has become a grey area over the past 18 months. The Addicks’ home form dipped last season without fans present while simultaneously the side picked up some decent wins on the road that kept their Play-Off push alive.

Although Ipswich and Sunderland seem to be the bookies’ favourites for promotion, League One is always difficult to call and quite often the teams earning automatic promotion come out of the blocks fastest.

Charlton are ranked among a chasing pack that includes Sheffield Wednesday, Portsmouth, Lincoln and a resurgent Wigan and, with an experienced manager at the helm and a strong starting XI they certainly should be in the reckoning.

If they can add some depth to the squad, and if players such as Ryan Inniss and Alex Gilbey continue to go from strength to strength, the Play-Offs should definitely be within their reach. Anything short of that would be disappointing.

LFS Verdict: 5th

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