“Remember how far he has come” – Lee Bowyer has his say on Naby Sarr after social media criticism following Charlton’s derby loss to Millwall

BY RICHARD CAWLEY
richard@slpmedia.co.uk

Lee Bowyer has asked Charlton Athletic fans to look at the progress Naby Sarr has made under his watch – even if the Frenchman was at fault for both goals in the recent derby defeat at Millwall.

The centre-back failed to stop Shaun Hutchinson heading home Shaun Williams’ early free-kick at The Den.

And then he was found badly wanting defending the back post in the first minute of stoppage time – Lions powerhouse Matt Smith allowed an uncontested jump to head in Jed Wallace’s corner for the decider.

Sarr was also shaky in the 1-0 home reverse to Preston in the fixture before.

And Addicks fans on social media were highly critical of his display against their South London rivals.

Sarr has played a more prominent role under Bowyer and his displays saw him win an international call up for Senegal in the latest break, although he was an unused substitute in both their fixtures.

Charlton Athletic’s Naby Sarr (left) and Millwall’s Jed Wallace battle for the ball

He has started nine of Charlton’s opening 16 matches this season.

Sarr endured a shaky start to life with the Addicks – failing to justify a big money switch from Portuguese side Sporting. He was loaned to Red Star FC for the 2017-18 campaign.

But the 26-year-old made 34 starts as Charlton won promotion from League One.

“We have to remember how far he has come,” said Bowyer. “When I first took over 18 months ago he was in a bad place.

“Yeah, it was a shame he was at fault [against Millwall] but he has played a lot of games for us.

“So you can’t just get caught up in that game. All players make mistakes at one time or another.

“Once you come away from it and have had a couple of days to calm down you have to look at the bigger picture, that’s all I’d say. And that is how far he has come in the time that I’ve been in charge.”

Despite that public show of support from Bowyer, it remains to be seen if Sarr retains his place for Saturday’s visit of Cardiff City – one of the most direct sides in the Championship.

Despite the recent managerial change at the Welsh club – former Millwall boss Neil Harris replacing Neil Warnock – it is not expected to see an instant change in tactics.

Bowyer said: “Whenever we play a team of late there seems to be speculation around the club. That happened when we played Preston the other week [Alex Neil the subject of an approach from Stoke City] and Cardiff now.

“They have just come down from the Premier League and they have a good squad.

“It’s going to be a tough one. With a new manager it means they’ll probably run around a little more than they have done. But we’re at home and need to use that to our advantage.

“Nothing changes for us – we have to do the right things and compete with these teams. If we do that we have got good players who can score goals, there are not many games we have not scored in.

“We just have to be a bit more clinical in front of goal.

“The other week at Millwall we created enough chances to win the game but their keeper was on fire.

“We should have won the game and ended up coming away with nothing – defensively we have to sort out that side of it.

“The way we conceded at Millwall wasn’t good enough. We have to tidy up on that.”

Joint top-scorer Lyle Taylor, out since the end of August with knee ligament damage, is facing a race to be fit for the visit of the Bluebirds.

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