Charlton are effectively fielding a development team at the moment, according to defender Lewis Page.
The Valley outfit are suffering an injury crisis which has decimated their already small squad – and were only able to name five subs for the opening day 2-1 defeat at Sunderland.
The 20-year-old midfielder George Lapslie won his full league debut at the Stadium of Light and performed well, but Page insists that Charlton need to add further bodies to their roster in order to challenge at the right end of the League One table.
“He was very good,” Page said of boyhood Charlton fan Lapslie. “He gets around the pitch very well and he’s also good on the ball. His energy helped us a lot in midfield, especially in the first half. Him and (Joe) Aribo, Aribo has a lot of legs as we know.
“That was good but obviously we need a few more players in if we’re going to push up the league and boost our squad. If we’ve got injuries we’ve basically got an under-23s team. A lot of us are really young. Myself, I’ve only just turned 22. We’re going to need a few more experienced heads probably. We’ll just see what happens over the next week.”
The Addicks’ injury woes worsened this week as Jake Forster-Caskey was ruled out for the entire campaign with a severe knee injury.
Page, who knows what it is like to spend a year on the side lines after a succession of injuries last season, offered Forster-Caskey advice on how to survive such a long time out.
“Just keep you head because it’s very difficult when you’re in the gym on your own for a long amount of time,” explained Page, who signed from West Ham in January 2017.
“You and the strength coach, you’re doing exercises. It’s boring but it’s only going to make you better. You’re going to come back stronger. I feel better in myself, I feel better physically for it. If he just keeps in mind what he’s going to be like when he comes back, I’m sure he’ll stay positive. “I’ll see him next week, I think he’s going to have an operation at some point and when he’s back in I’ll have a chat with him.
“We were all devastated for him. It happened in training. What can you do? Obviously, the shirt when Lyle scored was a nice touch for him to see on TV. Hopefully he can be positive. I’ve been there myself, been out for a year so I know how he feels. He’s got to keep his head down and I’m sure he’ll come back better.
“It was a big hit (to the squad), I’m not going to lie. He’s a very good midfield player, spreads the ball well, keeps it moving. We needed that probably today out there. But it happens in football, what can you do? You’ve got to move on. We’ve got to get players in and stay together. We’re going to have a small squad either way. We’ve got to stick together and there’s no reason we can’t do well.”