Igor Vetokele scored his first league goal for Charlton Athletic in more than three years on Saturday – but manager Lee Bowyer has told him he needs to sharpen up if he wants a starting role.
The striker, 26, headed home in the first minute of second-half stoppage time to secure a 2-1 victory at AFC Wimbledon.
But Vetokele was set to play in an U23 game yesterday, with Bowyer claiming he has “not looked good in training”.
Josh Parker missed the trip to the Cherry Red Records Stadium with a virus. And Bowyer opted to change his formation and play Lyle Taylor as a lone frontman.
When asked why Vetokele had failed to impress, the Addicks chief said: “Just sharpness, he looked a little bit off of it.
“Since I’ve been in charge I have always played two strikers. Josh was ill and it was a chance for Igor, but he hasn’t looked sharp in training. I can’t pick people who don’t look good, that’s just the way football is. I can’t just say: ‘Go and play’.
“Obviously a little while ago I had no strikers available – I had no choice. But now Lyle is back and I’m looking for someone to play up top with him.
“To be fair to Igor, those comments were after training on Thursday morning and he was a lot better on Friday. He came on and scored on Saturday, so I got the right reaction from him – which is important.
“But he’ll play in the U23 game today [Monday]. That’s no punishment, simply just to try and get his fitness up because he has hardly played all season.
“He has got such an opportunity now to have a strong end to the season. Whoever plays up top – go and grab it. Don’t let this chance bypass you.”
Bowyer is unsure whether Parker, signed from Gillingham at the end of the January transfer window, will be fit to face Doncaster on Saturday.
“He had to go to hospital on Friday for tests because he was really weak and has lost a lot of weight,” said the Charlton manager. “He is due back in today [Monday] and we’ll have to see how much energy he has.
“We’ll have a better idea on him by Thursday.”
Lyle Taylor had a protective boot on after the victory over his former club. But he was not sporting it on Monday.
“He was in on Sunday because he had hurt his ankle,” said Bowyer. “But I’m sure he’ll be alright for Saturday.”
Krystian Bielik is available after serving a two-match ban for collecting 10 cautions.
Taylor still needs to avoid another caution until after gameweek 37 in the EFL to avoid the same punishment.