After three years in the wilderness of League One, Charlton Athletic will make their return to the Championship on Saturday, as they travel to Ewood Park to face Blackburn Rovers.
It’s been a busy summer for the Addicks as they prepare for the step back up to the second tier, with several new signings arriving at The Valley, while key players such as Patrick Bauer and Joe Aribo have departed the club.
As a result, it could be several changes in the lineup that Lee Bowyer selects on Saturday from the one he fielded at Wembley in the play-off final that saw them win promotion so dramatically back in May.
Here, we’ve taken a look at the exact starting XI we expect to start for Charlton on that return to the Championship against Blackburn on Saturday.
Having employed a 3-5-2 formation in that play-off final win at Wembley, we’ve gone with that as the formation we expect Bowyer to use again on Saturday.
While Bowyer himself has admitted that he is yet to decide whether it will be Dillon Phillips or new signing Ben Amos who starts in goal, we’ve gone with Phillips, if only to give him the opportunity to get the memory of that horrendous gaffe at Wembley out of his system.
In defence, two of those who started the play-off final have left, with the aforementioned Patrick Bauer joining Preston and Krystian Bielik – who now looks set for a move to Derby – seeing his loan from Arsenal expire at the end of last season.
We’ve therefore gone for new signing Tom Lockyer, and the Championship experience of Jason Pearce to join Naby Sarr in the backline.
In the full-back areas meanwhile, the in-demand Anfernee Dijksteel looks to have secured the right-back spot while he remains at the club, while Ben Purrington will be expected to start on the left after making his loan move from Rotherham permanent.
Midfield meanwhile is an area where Charlton look particularly short of numbers, so the return of Johnny Williams – who was so impressive at The Valley last season – will be a welcome sight for Addicks fans.
As a result the Welshman is surely set to start on Saturday, with George Lapslie and the experienced Darren Pratley the two that we expect to support him.
Upfront, Lyle Taylor will surely be key to Charlton’s hopes of survival in the coming campaign, having helped fire them to promotion last season, meaning he is likely to start at Ewood Park. Alongside him, we’ve gone for new signing Macauley Bonne – who was himself free-scoring last season to guide Leyton Orient to promotion from the National League – to make his competitive debut for Charlton at Ewood Park.