Midfielder George Dobson has spelt out his relief at returning to the Charlton starting line-up – and the win at his former club Sunderland.
The 23-year-old has only featured in six league games so far this year but was vital for the Addicks in the engine room at the weekend and helped the club grab an upset win.
He had been omitted from the matchday 18 in each of the Addicks’ last six League One matches – but that it came on Wearside made it all the more sweeter.
Dobson told CharltonTV: “I was actually in this situation at Sunderland about a year ago and I probably found it tough not playing, not being involved at all. I couldn’t really get my head around it.
“I’ve learnt from that a lot and this time – obviously I’m disappointed to not be playing – I didn’t let it affect me. I tried to work harder in the gym, work on extras because you never know when you’re going to get your opportunity and obviously for me it was [at Sunderland]. By staying mentally strong and putting in the extra work I felt like I was ready for my opportunity.
“It was sweet at the end but it’s only one game. It’s a lot to build on. It was a great feeling. “Obviously, for me, the last few weeks have been tough.
“Football’s a funny game in terms of you find yourself out of favour and then obviously Jacko [Johnnie Jackson] comes in and gives me the opportunity to start. So, it’s one of them – I’m playing against my former club and obviously a fresh manager bounce for myself. I just wanted to go out and give everything for the team to prove to him that I should be playing and I should be keeping my shirt.
“For me, personally, it was obviously unbelievable but the team… you could just see out there we just ran for each other and gave absolutely everything. There was a lot of quality as well and that was with one and a half day’s worth of work with Jacko. So, we’ve obviously said that that’s the bare minimum going forward.
“Some days you’re not going to be as good on the ball, but if you put that work ethic in and work rate that gets you results in this league.
“We’ve set a standard and we’ve just got to make sure that every game we’re at that level really.”
A switch of tactics also helped. “We had the change of formation with the three at the back,” the midfielder said.
“We decided we were going to go high press, just get after them and just literally run ourselves into the ground trying to win the ball back. And you see that with Purrs [Ben Purrington] and [Jonathan] Leko basically playing the whole length of the pitch, pressing their full-back and then getting back in and making it a five at the back at times.
“Obviously for Leko that’s not his normal game and he was making challenges in his own box to stop the cross.
“That was obviously our first game and that’s only one and a half session’s worth of work, so if we can obviously have a free week next week to put extra layers on to what we showed. We’ve got to make sure that this is the start of a run because, obviously, where we are in the table hasn’t been good enough and we’ve got the opportunity to climb it now.
“It’s obviously massive but we can’t get too carried away. It is only one game but what Jacko and what everyone has basically said in the dressing room is that that’s our benchmark, that’s our bare minimum.
“If that’s our bare minimum every week we’re going to win a lot more games than we lose. We’ve got a lot of detail to add to what we showed, but it’s a start.”