Another summer is over and the season can properly get under way. After a sluggish start to the window, Charlton picked up the pace towards the end, signing four players in a week with three on deadline day.
Net Squad Changes
In terms of net size, the window closed with Charlton’s squad being two players smaller than last season, however the departures list included long-term outcast Marcus Maddison and the on loan Erhan Oztumer. When compared to the rest of the division, Charlton come out quite favourably, sitting in joint 8th with Oxford and Portsmouth. Covid likely played a role in this as 17 of the 24 teams in the division currently have smaller squads than last season. Rotherham are down 7 players on last season, whilst Ipswich, who signed 19 players, are still down three bodies. Generally, League 1 teams are likely aiming to plug any gaps with free agents, U23s and academy players. More than ever, injuries will determine success in the league this season.
The vast majority of League 1 teams utilised the loan market once again this summer and Charlton were no exception. In fact, only Wycombe abstained from making any temporary signings this summer. Charlton’s four, whilst close to the matchday cap of five, puts the club behind 10 others. Sheffield Wednesday even exceeded the matchday cap with 6.
A noticeable feature of this window has been the increased contract lengths handed out to new signings. Admittedly this is a double-edged sword and no guarantee of success, as the club risks being lumbered with flops on expensive deals, but regardless it was nice to see Kirk sign Charlton’s first four-year contract since 2016.
Following the additions of Lee, Arter, and Leko late on in the window, Charlton appear strong on the wings and in central midfield. On paper, the signing of Sam Lavelle is an upgrade on Deji Oshilaja and will give Adkins much needed cover in the right centre back position for the injury-prone Ryan Inniss. Presumably, this pushes the promising Deji Elerewe back into the u23 squad, blocking his path to first-team action slightly. That said, at only 17, Elerewe has plenty of time ahead of him and is currently only on schoolboy terms that will expire in July 2022. Perhaps taking him out of the limelight is for the best as it will prevent immediate interest in him from elsewhere. However, despite the strong midfield and central defensive cover, questions remain around two key positions, namely up front and at left back.
There can be no denying that securing Jayden Stockley on a permanent deal after his previous successful loan was an excellent piece of business. Indeed, it wouldn’t be too unreasonable to suggest that he will hit 15+ goals this season. However, the elephant in the room remains his cover in the event of a long-term injury. Losing Aneke was clearly a major blow, he was a battering ram of a striker and his goals per 90 were comfortably the best in the division last season. In my opinion, his retention as cover would’ve turned a playoff hopeful, on paper, into a promotion candidate. Imagine bringing him off the bench to run at tired defences after his form last season! Alas, that’s what happens when players are allowed to run down their contracts.
Currently, if Stockley gets injured and Adkins wishes to continue with his 4-3-3, only the unproven Davison is available as cover. This could be a perfect opportunity for Davison, after all, three seasons ago Karlan Grant was in danger of becoming a forgotten man at only 20. But he took his chance and developed a deadly partnership with Lyle Taylor, earning himself a January move to Premier League Huddersfield. Like Grant in 2018/19, Davison is also out of contract next summer so should have the motivation to play for a new contract here or elsewhere. Publicly at least, Adkins appears to be a big fan of his and he is firmly ahead of Ronnie Schwartz in the pecking order. If Adkins truly rates him privately as highly as he does publicly then Charlton should be looking to sign him up on new terms immanently.
Elsewhere, Charlton are glaringly short at left back with Ben Purrington as the only left-footed senior option in the squad. Unlike centre back, where Elerewe is developing nicely, there is no star academy left back deserving of a fast-track to the first team, making the decision to not sign one slightly puzzling. However, the free agent window remains open so perhaps an uncontracted player will be picked up in the coming weeks as cover.
Generally, it was a fairly positive transfer window. The incoming signings have mostly been in the right age bracket, and a few come with impressive reputations. However, questions remain over the lack of left back and striker cover. Regardless, this side should be capable of delivering the playoffs at a minimum.