Blues can save themselves after rivals drop points in relegation battle

Blues go into this evenings match with Charlton Athletic with the knowledge that a win will assure Championship survival thanks in large part to Hull City’s dramatic implosion at Wigan and Luton being held to a draw by QPR last night.

With no news of an incoming permanent manager, other than fluctuations in the bookmakers odds, Steve Spooner and Craig Gardner are set to be in the dugout once again, hoping I’m sure to see a reaction after Sundays woeful showing at Stoke City.

Perhaps the only positive thing to come from Sundays defeat was the honesty shown by Harlee Dean in condemning the performance and the news that harsh words were spoken within the dressing room.

A win for Charlton would see them go above Blues due to superior goal difference and see Blues looking nervously over their shoulder going into the final two games of the season against tough opposition and hoping that others drop points.

Last Time Out

Blues

Blues turned in a dreadful first half performance against Stoke City which will surely have damaged already fragile confidence. With the introduction of Nico Gordon to a back three and Wes Harding inexplicably played as a left wingback, wholesale changes were made to both line-up and tactics which ultimately combined with a lack of urgency and application saw Blues capitulate meekly in the 2-0 away defeat. There was a minor improvement in the second half, however, that seemed due to Stoke stepping off the gas rather than any material change of personnel or game plan from the Blues caretaker coaches.

Championship Form: DDLLLL

Charlton Athletic

Charlton suffered a 0-1 loss at home to Reading on Saturday, an early George Puscas penalty doing the damage after just three minutes. The hosts did have the ball in the net in response however this was ruled out for offside. Despite Reading’s season effectively being over with mid-table safety assured, Charlton’s efforts to find a way back into the game ultimately went without reward as they slipped to a third defeat in a row.

Championship Form: WWDLLL

Squads

Blues

Jake Clarke-Salter and Kristian Pedersen face late fitness tests after picking up groin injuries ahead of the Stoke City defeat. Josh McEachran remains out for the season. Blues will once again be reliant on youth to call upon from the bench.

Charlton Athletic

Lee Bowyer has a fully fit squad to choose from with Villa loanee Andre Green returning to training along with left back Lewis Page.

One to Watch

Following the departure of Lyle Taylor the Addicks main goal threat is carried by Macauley Bonne who has contributed nine goals and two assists so far this season. The Zimbabwe international being their only goal scorer in their last four outings.

Views From the Dugout

Steve Spooner once again spoke to the media and was keen to stress the importance of getting the basics right…

If you look at any team that does well, they do the basics well. But sometimes when you’re down on your luck, even the basics are very hard to do. We’ve tried to address that problem and give them a platform to build on. We saw little bits of the game on Sunday where there were some positives but not as many as we would like

Spooner also gave his views on Harlee Dean’s post match interview…

I hope his words have a positive effect. But it’s about actions. We’re all different characters. we’ve been in the dressing room with warriors that shout and holler and others that are very calm and relaxed and that’s just the way they handle it. Harlee thought that was correct and we respect that

Charlton manager Lee Bowyer looked to relieve the pressure on his sides battle against the drop…

We’re in a good place, it is still in our hands. Birmingham is a massive game but that’s not going to define whether we stay up or not. It is over the three games that is important

Bowyer also acknowledged the quality of the Blues front men…

They’ve got good players, especially in the final third, that can hurt you. (Lucas) Jutkiewicz, I would say, is one of the best strikers in the league. Scott Hogan obviously has a good record too. He’s another very good striker

Photo Courtesy: Roy Smiljanic / BCFC

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