BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Jamie Ward will play in Charlton’s EFL Trophy game tonight at Stevenage – after boss Lee Bowyer asked Northern Ireland to excuse the winger from international duty.
Ward joined the Addicks on loan from Nottingham Forest at the end of August but missed two matches with a knock before coming on as a late sub in Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Coventry.
Ireland face Austria and Bosnia & Herzegovina in the UEFA Nations League on Friday and Monday respectively.
Charlton have three international call-ups – Krystian Bielik, Josh Cullen and Lyle Taylor – meaning this weekend’s League One game at Walsall is off.
Bowyer said: “He [Ward] will start [against Stevenage]. We need to get minutes into him. I spoke to their manager [Michael O’Neill] and he was very good, to be fair.
“He would’ve gone and maybe played 10, 15 or 20 minutes. At least being here he will have a full week’s training this week and next week plus at least 60 minutes on Tuesday.
“We’ll have some kids playing but we’ll be strong up top. Nicky Ajose and Igor Vetokele will start.
“Obviously it is a bit of a pick and mix, our more seniors ones won’t be involved but on paper the team still looks strong to me.”
Bielik was an unused sub against the Sky Blues after returning from a calf strain but is part of the Poland U21 set-up.
“They have got two games and hopefully they will get some minutes into him but won’t kill him,” said Bowyer.
Mark Marshall will also feature. The former Bradford City man was trialled at right-back in pre-season but he did not even make the matchday 18 on Saturday – Anfernee Dijksteel preferred in that full-back slot with Chris Solly moving across to cover for the injured Lewis Page.
“Anfernee will play in front of Marsh,” said Bowyer. “Anfernee did well for us at right-back at the end of last season and he [Marshall] doesn’t understand the defensive side of it.
“Obviously I didn’t expect Page to be out, Krystian to be out and Pat [Bauer] at the same time. We could’ve gone Naby at left-back but he’s had to be playing centre-back.
“Chris did very well at left-back on Saturday. He cuts insides a bit and the whole pitch opens up for him.”