BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Lee Bowyer reckons the fitness of his Charlton Athletic players is a big factor in their flying start to the Championship season.
The Addicks are second in the table and still unbeaten. On Saturday they won 2-0 at Reading in front of more than 2,200 travelling fans.
Bowyer has pledged to stay with the South London club despite strong interest from Huddersfield Town, who were keen to make him their new boss.
Charlton have the second best defensive record in England’s top four divisions in 2019.
“The players just don’t stop until the end,” said Bowyer. “That makes a massive difference. Our fitness is different to other teams – we are getting stronger at the end of games.
“Okay, you have to take Brentford out of that but we had played on the Wednesday. That was the only one where we looked really tired at the end. Saturday we looked strong. Our subs made the difference when they came on. As a group, as a squad, we are in a really good place.
“I think [the fitness] is down to the way we train. Our intensity in training is really, really high. Other clubs might not train at the same intensity. We’re getting fitter from training every day and when we go into games we are taking that intensity into them.
“We can’t get carried away because the realistic aim is to stay in the league and re-establish ourselves.
“There might be patches where we lose two or three on the spin. That is when we have got to stick together – because it is going to happen, we’re only human.
“There will be a patch where we don’t win or draw and we all have to accept that’s going to happen.
“It’s not about thinking we are going to go up again – that’s wrong! Flipping hell, with what we’ve got to work with [budget] we have got to be realistic at the same time.”
Bowyer looked set to be nominated for August’s Manager of the Month award.
Lyle Taylor has been shortlisted for PFA Championship Player of the Month.