Charlton Athletic have plenty left to play for before the season draws to a close, but that shouldn’t stop them from planning ahead.
The Addicks lie in ninth place, just one point outside the playoff zone, as they look to make an instant return to the Championship at the first time of asking.
And they’ll need to do so under a new manager after Lee Bowyer swapped The Valley for another former jaunt in Birmingham City’s St Andrew’s Stadium.
Nigel Adkins was appointed two weeks ago, signing a two-and-a-half-year deal, so he’s clearly here for the long-term future.
Ahead of the summer, several of his current squad are out of contract, including veteran midfielder Darren Pratley. He should be let go from The Valley…
Having joined from Bolton Wanderers in the summer of 2018, the 6-foot midfielder has established himself as a regular under each manager that has come and gone in south-east London.
He played a crucial part in getting the Addicks promoted from this very division last time, bagging that all-important late goal in the playoff semi-final against Doncaster Rovers.
Whilst this campaign, the 35-year-old has played 32 times in the league, averaging 80 minutes per appearance, via Transfermarkt.
However, he did not feature in Adkins’ first starting XI, which is rather telling given his vast experience – or is it?
Pratley has been one of Charlton’s poorest performing players this season, averaging a lowly WhoScored rating of 6.49, which is comfortably the worst of any regular starter (25 or more games).
Only Albie Morgan (6.45) and Adam Matthews (6.44) have managed worse ratings this term, but they do not feature in the starting lineup as much as Pratley.
The veteran is also recording the worst disciplinary record of his career, having racked up six yellow cards and two reds, perhaps suggesting that the game is starting to get away from him somewhat.
Compared to last campaign, when featuring in a higher division, Pratley is managing fewer interceptions per game, seeing a decrease from 1.9 to 0.8 – that’s over half, meaning he’s not reading the game as well as he once was despite being in a poorer league.
He’s also managing more fouls per game, seeing an increase of 0.4, only adding to that worrying disciplinary record, as per WhoScored.
There could well be a future for him at centre-back, after Bowyer’s suggestion three years ago resulted in an “outstanding” display in defence but his vast regression and age alone should be enough to not warrant fresh terms this summer.
Addicks chief Steve Gallen must be ruthless over the £5.4k-per-week Charlton favourite, it’s time to move on.