Charlton midfielder Darren Pratley admits he is relishing his new defensive role

Darren Pratley had never given any thought to reverting from a midfielder to a centre-half, but says he has enjoyed the experience so far.

A veteran of over 400 league appearances, the natural midfielder has been asked to fill in at the heart of defence by Charlton boss Lee Bowyer as the Addicks continue to be blighted by an injury to Patrick Bauer.

After coasting through the 8-0 EFL Trophy win at Stevenage as part of a back-three, Pratley has now played the last two league games as the centre-back partner to skipper Jason Pearce in a flat back-four.

He has looked comfortable in his new role during the 1-1 draw with Oxford at The Valley, as well as Saturday’s 1-0 reverse away to Rochdale.

“I was a little bit surprised,” Pratley said when asked how he felt about being asked to drop back into the defence.

“But the manager says he trusts me and I’ll be OK. I’ve enjoyed it. I didn’t think I’d enjoy it as much as I do. We’ll just see where it takes me.

Rochdale AFC’s Calvin Andrew and Charlton Athletic’s Darren Pratley compete for a header

“I’ve never played there in my career so I’d never even thought about playing centre-half. I’ve enjoyed the last few games. I played against Stevenage because we changed the team and we need players at the back. I want to play for the club. I’ve had quite a long career and sometimes you’ve got to play where there’s a position available for you and hopefully you keep the shirt.”

“Disappointed to concede a goal,” he added, speaking about Ian Henderson’s strike as Rochdale defeated the Addicks over the weekend.

“Not normally my thing, obviously I’m a midfielder. But I enjoyed it back there. We’ve got good footballers at this club. Some of the boys who are not even in the squad that have travelled. The way we’re playing at the moment in the diamond, they’re probably better suited than me in midfield. So, the gaffer has put me at the back and I’ve enjoyed it. I’m playing with a good player in Pearcey. He’s talking me through. He’s a captain, a leader. An experienced pro. That helps. I’m happy to be playing.

“We’ve got good players everywhere. We’ve got Naby Sarr on the bench who is a defender who will walk in most times. I’m just happy to be playing and hopefully I did OK.”

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