Bob Peeters has promised to give Charlton’s youngsters a chance to impress this year.
And highly-rated 17-year-old central defender Joe Gomez looks set to be the first to benefit after being invited to train with the first team in pre-season.
Gomez has already represented England at U16 and U17 level and a first full Charlton appearance could be on the cards after new Valley boss Peeters vowed to hand the best kids at the club Championship opportunities.
The Belgian head coach said: “One of the main reasons I signed was because in Belgium I was giving a lot of youngsters a chance and they are all now regulars in the first division in Belgium.
“One of the main reasons was that the academy of Charlton was high standard.
“I also said to one player Joe Gomez, who is only 17, that he can do pre-season with us because I want to see with young players if they can do the job.
“One of my philosophies is when I look for players I first look in our own academy and in our own squad and then if we don’t find someone who can do the job then OK we go on.
“But the most important thing if you have a 16 or 17-year-old talented defender then you need to give him a chance and you need two or three of the other young players that can play in the first team of Charlton.”
Peeters has wasted no time in strengthening the squad by signing midfielder Yoni Buyens on a season-long loan from Standard Liege and Belgian striker Igor Vetokele on a permanent deal from FC Copenhagen.
That has prompted fears from some supporters the new boss is only interested in signing players from his own country, something he was keen to stress wasn’t the case.
Peeters explained: “The first thing you do when you come in as a new gaffer is look at players you know who can do the job.
“I know Igor Vetokele very well, he is a very talented player who was at Copenhagen and Yoni Buyens was one of the best midfielders in the Belgian league.
“He has got a great engine and can do a job in the Championship.
“The next thing is I am looking for people who are suited to play in the Championship.
“OK, the first two signings are Belgians, but we are going to bring in some other players as well.”
Peeters describes himself as very hands on and Charlton fans can expect to see that on the touchline.
He said: “I’m quite busy, I’m very passionate. I’m not an awful lot of time in the dug-out so I’m quite involved in the game and a lot of coaches will start to know me as soon as the season starts.
“I’m very close to my players and I give them a lot of respect but they need to do everything possible to give it their best shot and to try to please the fans because that’s the most important thing.
“A lot of fans pay a lot of money to come and see a game.
“The only thing you can do is give your best and if you do that OK, then you can make mistakes.”
Charlton’s first team squad returned to Sparrows Lane yesterday for pre-season training and Peeters is looking forward to getting to know his new charges before the big kick-off at Brentford on August 9.
The head coach said: “We have a lot of time, we have six weeks in preparation to speak to the players.
“I’m going to talk to them with the staff individually, hear what they have to say and then I’m going to explain a little bit of my point of view and my philosophy about how we want to play and which system we want to play.
“You have six weeks but for me also it is a challenge.
“The players need to get to know the new gaffer, that is normal, but if we can bring in the faces we want bring in I think we can add some quality to the team.
“We are going to work together very closely, we are going to work hard and then we will see from there.
“It is not important to win games in pre-season, the most important thing is the first game (Brentford) that we are ready to start the competition.”
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