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Midfield gives Moore a headache as Charlton threaten Wednesday’s winning run

The Owls host The Addicks as Darren Moore hopes his side can make it three wins in a row following victory at MK Dons before knocking Sunderland out of the League Cup this week.

Eight changes were made by the boss for Wednesday’s Carabao Cup first round tie, with Reece James and Tyreeq Bakinson given their first starts in blue and white whilst Lee Gregory returned after missing MK Dons with a suspension. Cameron Dawson made his first appearance since his impressive loan stint at Exeter, whilst Jaden Brown also played for the first time in a long time.

The Owls progressed into the second round where they’ll meet Rochdale thanks to a Dennis Adeniran masterclass as the midfielder opened the evening with a wonder-strike before his peach of a cross handed substitute Sylla Sow the second of the game just after half-time.

A pretty positive night at Hillsborough gave Moore a selection headache as Liam Palmer, George Byers and Tyreeq Bakinson also gave good accounts. The only worry for Wednesday was when Lee Gregory came off with a suspected hamstring injury in the first-half but all the signs suggest that it was just a precaution.

Charlton also found themselves in the second round draw after defeating Championship QPR on penalties. A 90th minute Aaron Henry goal tied the game at 1-1 with Athletic keeping their nerve from the spot kicks.

In League One The Addicks have begun their season in similar fashion to The Owls. On opening day, Ben Garner’s side found themselves 2-1 up at Accrington Stanley thanks to a stoppage time Miles Leaburn goal but were denied maximum points by former Owls’ under 21s striker Korede Adedoyin who’s 96th minute equaliser meant the spoils were shared. The following week Charlton were able to get that first victory at the expense of Derby County, in a game which the Rams will feel they should have won after missing some decent opportunities, Corey Blackett-Taylor’s goal midway through the second half was enough to secure the points.

Ben Garner was appointed Addicks boss this summer after guiding Swindon Town to the League Two playoffs last season in difficult circumstances. The new manager brought along three members of that Swindon team in goalkeeper Joe Wollacott, right-back Mandela Egbo and attacking midfielder Jack Payne.

Whilst Egbo is yet to feature, both Payne and Wollacott have made an early impact at The Valley. Jack Payne bagged 13 times in the fourth division last term and already has an assist to his name in League One despite playing just 13 minutes of league football. Meanwhile, Ghana international Wollacott made a handful of excellent saves last week to preserve Charlton’s clean sheet in their narrow win over Derby.

In another of his six signings, Garner also added Connor McGrandles from Lincoln City to an already competitive midfield of Alex Gilbey, Albie Morgan, Jake Forster-Caskey and Scott Fraser, giving the Londoners some real depth. Along with those names, The Addicks also have former Owl Sean Clare within their ranks. Used often on the right side of the defence, Clare came through at Hillsborough making 5 appearances in 2018 including a goal in front of the Kop against Aston Villa. The midfielder would later turn down a new deal that summer before leaving on a free to sign for Scottish Premier League side Hearts.

Another name with a Wednesday link is that of Jayden Stockley. Darren Moore was reportedly very interested in the Charlton captain with some of the media even suggesting The Owls had a bid turned down for the striker. Standing at 6’2, Stockley is the typical target man and offers much more of a threat than simply scoring goals, although he is pretty good at that too having netted 20 in all competitions last season.

For The Owls, Saturday will certainly be an interesting test as they hope to get more points on the board and continue their unbeaten start. After a hard-thought victory at Stadium MK followed by a comfortable win over Championship Sunderland, Darren Moore certainly has a lot to ponder with his team selection. With another tough fixture round the corner as Wednesday visit Peterborough on Tuesday night, I would be inclined to keep the lineup relatively similar to MK Dons and make any necessary changes for the midweek game, keeping everyone fresh.

In terms of a prediction it’s a tight call. The Owls have two midfields that can win you any game at this level. That being said Wednesday still has that lingering frailty of defending set-pieces fresh in the mind after their opening day draw. It also remains to be seen whether Lee Gregory or Michael Smith will be fit enough for selection this weekend and Wednesday certainly missed that presence up front down in MK. However, after such a positive week I think The Owls can continue their momentum, especially at Hillsborough; 2-1 Wednesday, goals from Stockley, Windass and Bannan.

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