Lee Bowyer recognises Charlton need to win Sunday’s League One play-off final against Sunderland if the Addicks squad is to stand any chance of not ‘crumbling’.
Both the manager and numerous players’ contracts are due to expire owing to the uncertainty of owner Roland Duchatelet’s reign, in the same way that their several loanees are also due to leave.
In difficult circumstances Bowyer has developed an impressive team spirit that has inspired Charlton to the brink of an unlikely promotion, but even in the event of victory over Sunderland there is a risk that by next season he and many of his squad will have left.
The Addicks’ most talented player, Joe Aribo, continues to interest bigger clubs with his contract almost up and the influence of loanees Josh Cullen, Ben Purrington and more would also need to be replaced.
Twelve months ago their defeat in the semi-finals contributed to the departure of the classy Jay Dasilva, who was also on loan , making Bowyer even more aware of exactly how high the stakes have become.
“I don’t know how far the group will crumble but you have got to remember you have five players on loan,” he said. “We are sending their players back better than they were when they arrived.
“So maybe now they are ready for the Championship or higher so that’s going to be out of our control and obviously you have got Joe Aribo, who is out of contract, who has improved so much it is frightening to watch.
“He is like a sponge. He just takes everything in and uses it, because he has got so many strengths but I’ve said it to him many times and he won’t mind me saying, he has still got so much to learn so this is the right club for him to learn at. But whether he stays or not will be Joe’s decision.
“(Promotion would) help, for sure. I’m a realist. Do I think Joe could go and play in the Championship next season? One hundred per cent. But I just hope that’s with us.”
Sunday’s fixture could also further justify Lyle Taylor’s decision to join Charlton last summer when the chance to sign for Sunderland arose.
The striker gave Charlton the lead at the Stadium of Light on the season’s opening day before they lost 2-1, and he has consistently excelled since then, scoring a further 24 goals.
“I’m obviously happier that he’s on our side,” Bowyer said. “If you were to ask Lyle, I think he would agree he made the right decision. Lyle has achieved everything that I promised he would.
“Lyle is a much better player than the one that arrived. He’s a more all-round player.
“That’s down to him and his hard work. He had to take on board the hard work and what we were telling him.
“If you ask him, only he can answer if he’s made the right decision coming here or Sunderland. But working with him, I’d like to think he made the right one.”
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