Charlton defender Naby Sarr has been the surprise package in the Addicks’ season so far.
The 25-year-old centre-back, signed for a hefty fee from Sporting Clube de Portugal in the summer of 2015, was something of a poster boy for the financial mismanagement of the Roland Duchatelet era.
He struggled to settle into English football, looking out of his depth as the Addicks suffered a humiliating relegation from the Championship.
An unsuccessful loan spell back in his homeland with Red Star Paris followed before he returned to become a bit-part player in South London last campaign.
But he’s played a major role at the club this season, featuring 31 times in all competitions and has started every game since the turn of the year – culminating in Saturday’s trip to AFC Wimbledon where his stunning free-kick set the Addicks on their way to a 2-1 victory.
So what has changed for the big Frenchman that his seen such a major improvement in his performances?
“Nothing,” believes Sarr.
“I think I’ve had the chance this season to play more. The more you play, the more you build confidence. The past few seasons I wasn’t playing regularly. Playing, on the bench, playing, on the bench. This season I’ve had the chance to go most of the weekends. I’m happy and I’m building on that.
“[The fans are] very good. They give me strength. Not just me, the whole team. We have them on our back and they help us until the end. They helped us score the second goal today.”
Injury to skipper Jason Pearce has given Sarr his chance over the last few weeks and the former Lyon man knows he will have to stay on his toes to keep his place in the side.
“No one is safe,” he explained.
“Everybody has to fight for his position. That’s what I’m trying to do. The gaffer makes the decision but I’m trying to do everything I can to keep my position. Pearcey is still the captain, he’s an important player for us. But it’s healthy competition and it keeps us all going to do well every week.
“I’m confident of what I can do. I’m just ready to help the team.”