Despite being just 21 years of age, Alfie Doughty was largely leading Charlton’s promotion charge this term before being struck down by injury in late October.
After falling into League One following their relegation form the Championship, promotion back to the second tier is on the agenda for the Addicks who are now seeking to stabilise under the guidance and knowhow of Thomas Sandgaard, after the Dane took over ownership of the club after a turbulent 12 months at the Valley.
The campaign started in good fashion, with Doughty starring for the Addicks on many occasions, racking up one goal and one assist in his first seven league outings, thus showcasing the natural talent that the attacker possesses.
The youngster was subject of intense interest over the summer, with several bids coming in from Scottish champions Celtic that were swiftly knocked back by Charlton, underlining how highly they regard their academy graduate.
As previously mentioned in the article, the wideman is now sidelined by a hamstring injury, with the seriousness of such a setback having been laid bare by his manager Lee Bowyer in a recent interview with the South London Press:
“If he comes back none of us know if he’ll be the same player – because his game is all about pace and he has done his hamstring.
“For Alfie, at this young age, it’s a bad one to have. No-one knows how he is going to come back yet. Rehab is really, really important for him”
Quiz: Did these 20 things happen to Charlton Athletic in 2020?
Adding to the fact that his physical performance may be hampered, the Addicks also have another factor to deal with – Doughty’s expiring contract.
The pacey forward is yet to agree terms on a new deal and as it stands will be able to negotiate a pre-contract agreement with foreign clubs once January falls upon us, therefore opening up the possibility of the Addicks losing arguably their most talented asset for absolutely nothing – similarly to that of Lyle Taylor’s departure last summer.
However as Bowyer rightly pointed out in the same aforementioned interview, he would be foolish to push the youngster out if he refuses to sign as the wideman could play a key role in getting the club back to the Championship, providing that he does return to his peak level of fitness and form.
Ultimately the factors mentioned will determine how Charlton deal with Doughty on the transfer front and it would be viewed as a real shame by many if he does walk out of the Valley for nothing, with the club having put a lot of work into nurturing one of the EFL’s best up and coming talents over the past 12 months.
The choice is simple – keep the player and potentially seal promotion or freeze him out and end up out of pocket.