After a disappointing loss against Oxford United on Saturday afternoon, Charlton will be desperate to claim their first victory of the season away at MK Dons.
Like Nigel Adkins’ side, MK Dons also sit on one point after drawing 3-3 against recently-promoted Bolton Wanderers away from home and then going on to lose 2-1 in Buckinghamshire against Sunderland at the weekend.
Some would put that down to two very good opposition sides, others would say they’re still reeling from Russell Martin’s departure to Swansea City – but Liam Manning will be hoping to take all three points in his second game in charge. In front of thousands of Dons fans, what better time to get off the mark?
They face a majorly daunting challenge though with Charlton losing just one of their last 15 league games of the 2020/21 campaign and still tipped to be promotion candidates despite their slow start to the new season.
With the likes of Conor Washington and Jayden Stockley at the Addicks’ disposal, you can never rule them out despite the summer departure of Chuks Aneke, and they will be hoping to utilise their attacking firepower to blow the hosts away on Tuesday night.
Ahead of tomorrow evening’s tie, we have selected the starting lineup Nigel Adkins is likely to go with as the south-east London side search for their first three points of the 2021/22 campaign.
Craig MacGillivray starts in between the sticks again after coming in on a free transfer in the summer. That was a severely underrated bit of business from Charlton – because he was one of Portsmouth’s best players last season before leaving Fratton Park on the expiration of his contract.
Many Charlton fans haven’t rated him so far, but he should be given a full chance by Adkins before he’s dropped.
On either side of defence, they have experienced internationals Chris Gunter and Adam Matthews, with the former likely to be on the left again after often playing there for former side Reading during his time at the Select Car Leasing Stadium. He may not be the most effective there, but he can do a job and that’s why they are likely to persist with him.
And despite conceding two goals away at Oxford United at the weekend, both Akin Femewo and Ryan Inniss should be given another chance at centre-back after keeping a clean sheet against Sheffield Wednesday and forming a decent partnership even before the start of this campaign.
Jason Pearce isn’t the worst option to have as a backup, but stability and calmness is needed in the Addicks’ current situation, so they shouldn’t hit the panic button just yet at the back.
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In central midfield though, there is definitely room for rotation considering they have another game coming up at the weekend.
George Dobson, who arrived from Sunderland in the summer, seems to have settled in nicely and will start again after playing well at the weekend.
Ben Watson joins him to temporarily replace Sean Clare as an experienced head in the middle of the park, something they probably need after a slow start to their season. And Albie Morgan retains his place in midfield to play in front of Dobson and Watford, providing the attacking support needed to drive the Addicks up the pitch.
Diallang Jaiyesimi is another player who needs to keep his place in the starting 11 to stretch MK Dons, provide a threat from out wide and from there, create chances for Jayden Stockley and Conor Washington who will get themselves on the scoresheet if given adequate service to thrive.
The attacking duo are probably Charlton’s most treasured assets and after signing the former permanently from Preston North End this summer, Adkins will be hoping he can become the player he was in his Exeter City days and fire Charlton back to the Championship.
Things didn’t quite work out at Deepdale – but he now has the fresh start he needs and after dropping down a tier – it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him near the top of the third-tier goalscorers tally come the end of the season.