Lee Bowyer has described replacing Joe Aribo as “impossible” – with Charlton needing to fill three central midfield spots in this transfer window.
Aribo, 22, snubbed contract talks with the Addicks and sealed a move to Rangers last month.
Krystian Bielik and Josh Cullen – both smash hits on loan – are back with Arsenal and West Ham respectively.
Asked how important it was that Charlton got their incoming deals right in the middle of the park, Bowyer replied: “It’s vital. But to replace Joe, with the budget we have got, is impossible. That’s just a fact.
“We have got to try and get as close as we can to someone with Joe’s qualities and ability as we possibly can.
“We are constantly on the phone and going through videos. We are working like you couldn’t imagine – the only time we are not talking about it is when we are sleeping.
“Even on Wednesday I had a day off but all day I was on the phone going through players that we’ve got on our list. Can he replace him? Could he bring what he brought? It’s tough. I knew it was going to be tough.
“It’s frustrating because you just want to have a go. If we could have a go then I think we’d do really, really well. But we’re limited.
“What I would say is that it is a challenge and we will get there. The people we bring in will be good players. I’ve got no doubt about that. I think we’ll be fine.”
Arsenal’s Bielik – who did well for Poland at this summer’s U21 European Championships – has been linked with AC Milan.
Bielik had more of an impact in SE7 than Stephy Mavididi, but the Arsenal striker still went on to sign for Juventus in August 2018.
Asked about Bielik’s link to the Italian giants, Bowyer said: “It just shows we did well with him – because this time last year I’m guessing we were his best option.
“I don’t know if there is any truth in him going to AC Milan, but it does underline that his move here paid off.”
Charlton have been left puzzled by claims that Sam Baldock has put a move to South London in doubt after refusing to take a wage drop – because the Championship newcomers have not even made an approach to Reading.
It seems an attempt by the Berkshire club to drive up interest in the striker. He is one of a number of players they want to move on so they can make signings – the Royals need outgoings because they are under a ‘soft’ transfer embargo which restricts their dealings.
Jake Forster-Caskey (foot) is a doubt to feature in Charlton’s friendly at Welling tomorrow.