BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Darren Pratley turns 35 before the end of this season – but Charlton Athletic manager Lee Bowyer had no doubts about handing a new contract to the midfield anchorman.
When the Addicks boss signed the Barking-born ball-winner last summer he talked about the former Bolton Wanderers and Swansea man adding nous and physical strength to a side who had fallen just short in the play-offs.
Pratley has started four of Charlton’s opening five Championship matches and featured in all their league games.
If you meet Bowyer’s demands, then you get rewarded.
Pratley’s terms now run until the end of the 2020-21 campaign.
“He has earned it,” said the Charlton manager when asked about Pratley already having a guarantee of another campaign so early this season.
“If you do well then you deserve to get rewarded.
“People might say he didn’t really play much last season but it is not just about that – it is also what he does off the pitch.
“He is close to Lyle [Taylor] and he’s experienced. With the shenanigans with Lyle [when Brentford’s bids unsettled the striker] he played a part [in helping smooth] that.
“This is what people don’t see – what he brings. He was invaluable to us last season and then he played in the play-off semi-finals and final. He’s been outstanding for us.
“For me it is a no-brainer. It’s not like he has lost his legs – he is one of the fittest lads in the group.
“Don’t get me wrong, there will be times – like the international break – to give him the odd extra day off. That’s what people did when I came to the end of my career. It’s man-management, to give him the odd day off more than other lads – because of his age.”