Lee Bowyer admits he is taking a more cautious approach to midweek assignments – as he gauges whether Jamie Ward and Patrick Bauer will be fit for Charlton’s game at Burton Albion tonight.
On-loan Nottingham Forest winger Ward returned from a dead leg picked up on international duty with Northern Ireland to score the Addicks’ first goal in Saturday’s 3-1 victory over Bristol Rovers.
And Bauer, who only made his return from a knee injury in last week’s FA Cup win over Mansfield Town, played the full 90 against the Gas.
“I think we’ve got to be careful with the older ones and he [Ward] is a bit older – so Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday can be a bit tough,” said Charlton manager Bowyer. “We have to weigh up and see how he is today [Monday] because I’ll probably name the team today.
“It was his best game for us on Saturday. He gets punished sometimes because he seems to be one step ahead. He’ll play the ball around the corner – he’s already got the picture in his head – but the strikers at the weekend were not expecting it.
“It’s because he has played at a higher level. He’s an international player, a clever player. They don’t read the pass and make him look bad I’m saying ‘that’s what I want him to do’. He is one step ahead.
“He looked fitter, worked hard out of possession and took his goal very, very well. I’d rather him starting than not.
“But these Tuesday nights I definitely have to freshen it up. I have learned that in the past. As well as they have done on Saturday I have gone with the same team on a Tuesday before and you can’t get the same intensity.
“It’s difficult with Pat because I had no intention of him playing for the full 90 minutes. But we were under a bit of pressure and they were putting balls in the box – that is what Pat is good at. I had to keep him on the whole game.
“If I’d put Krystian [Bielik] at the back then we’d have been a bit lightweight in midfield.
“In the first half Pat wasn’t really under any pressure, we controlled the first 30 or 35 minutes apart from their goal. In the second half he had to work a bit harder.
“Having Pat back means we only have one player missing in the back four but Pagey [Lewis Page] is a big miss – he gives us an outlet on the left and in attacking terms he puts good balls into the box. That’s what we lack at the moment.
“We’re not in control of the timeframe on his injury but I’m guessing he’ll be at least another three weeks. He’s the only one we don’t really have cover for.”
Ben Reeves (thigh) is not set to be risked.
“He trained on Sunday but not with us,” said Bowyer. “He went with the physio department and seems to be okay.
“I don’t think I’m going to rush him back. I’ve got to try and look at the bigger picture. We’re going to need him next month, it’s going to be a tough one with a lot of games. I don’t think I’ll involve him at Burton.”
Lyle Taylor is available after serving his one-match suspension for five bookings. The striker scored a hat-trick in the FA Cup win over Mansfield Town prior to sitting out the Bristol Rovers contest.
“He’ll be fresh,” said Bowyer. “He worked really hard in the cup game but has had a week’s rest and that included a couple of days off to sort himself out and recharge his batteries. He’ll be raring to go, for sure, and looked good in training on Thursday.”