Former Pompey favourites could miss out if Charlton ring the FA Cup changes against Hawks

When the FA Cup first round draw was made, Charlton Athletic were struggling. The day before Hawks beat Torquay in a replay to book their trip to The Valley, Nigel Adkins’ side had lost at home to Accrington Stanley.

By Simon Carter
Thursday, 4th November 2021, 11:54 am
Craig MacGillivray is the only Charlton player to have started all 16 of the club's League 1 games this season. Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images.
Craig MacGillivray is the only Charlton player to have started all 16 of the club's League 1 games this season. Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images.

That defeat was their eighth in 13 League 1 matches after just missing out on the play-offs last season, and left the former Premier League club stranded in the relegation zone.

After the 4-2 win against Torquay, Hawks boss Paul Doswell spoke about how he hoped Adkins - who he knows from the latter’s time as Southampton boss - would still be in charge by the time the first round took place.

Adkins was sacked the following morning.

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Charlton moved quickly to appoint Johnnie Jackson as caretaker and, in an instant, Hawks’ chances of a famous victory were lengthened. Jackson is a legend at The Valley and instantly brought a feelgood factor back to the club he skippered to the League 1 title in 2011/12.

He also reintroduced the winning mentality that had disappeared under Adkins. After just two victories in their opening 13 league games, Jackson won his first two matches - a stunning 1-0 win at then leaders Sunderland and a 4-0 pasting of struggling Doncaster.

In midweek, Charlton grabbed a late equaliser in a 1-1 Valley draw against a Rotherham side flying high and unbeaten in their previous nine league matches.

Millers boss Paul Warne was happy to have ended Jackson’s winning streak.

‘They played really well, caused us problems, pinned us back, stopped our midfield from being as fluid as normal. If you’d have offered me a point beforehand, would I have taken it? Possibly. I think Charlton are a top-six team.’

They have some way to go to get there. Though at least now out of the drop zone, the Addicks currently lie 18th - 65 places above Hawks in the pyramid.

As ever with EFL clubs playing non-league teams in the FA Cup these days, Jackson could well ring the changes. He wasn’t giving anything away, though, when asked after Tuesday’s game.

Regulars such as ex-Pompey keeper Craig MacGillivray and top scorer Jayden Stockley - wanted by Danny Cowley back in the summer - could be rested. Stockley has eight goals this season, including two in three League 1 games under Jackson.

A third ex-Blues player, defender Jason Pearce, has returned to favour under Jackson, having only started three league games this term under Adkins.

Jackson has switched tactics, preferring a 3-5-2 formation instead of the 4-2-3-1 Adkins was utilising, using Stockley as the lone striker.

Ben Purrington and Birmingham loanee Jon Leko were the wing-backs at Sunderland, though Diallang Jaiyesim has deputised on the right since Leko came off injured against Doncaster.

Ex-Welsh international Chris Gunter, Pearce and Norwich loanee Akin Famewo have been the three centre backs in the last two games. George Dobson is another who has returned to the side under Jackson in central midfield, with Northern Ireland international striker Connor Washington also restored to the starting XI since Adkins departed.

A look at Charlton’s personnel in the EFL Trophy this season could give an indicator of the changes Jackson could make against Hawks.

Nathan Harness, 21, could replace MacGillivray in goal while Ayodeji Elerewe, 18, started in central defence in a 6-1 thrashing of Crawley and a 4-1 win against Southampton U23s.

Charlie Kirk, 23, and Albie Morgan, 21, are likely to come into midfield while Sean Clare, who has not started a league game since Adkins left, is another contender for a start.

Up front, Josh Davison, 22, netted twice against Crawley while teenager Mason Burstow is highly rated and also featured in both EFL Trophy games.

Jackson, however, could have one eye on next Tuesday’s EFL Trophy trip to Leyton Orient. He could therefore decide to field a strong-ish side against Hawks while keeping the aforementioned youngsters fresh for the journey from south east to east London.

Prior to Adkins’ arrival, Jackson was also assistant to Lee Bowyer. The current Birmingham boss was a big believer in playing youth a chance in early FA Cup rounds. We will find out on Saturday what Jackson’s managerial ethos is.