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Charlton midfielder on track for Birmingham opener
DANNY Hollands is on course to face Birmingham on the opening day of the new season after finally getting back on the pitch in Saturday’s 2-0 friendly win at Bromley.
The midfield ace had been forced to watch the early pre-season games as he recovered from a summer operation on his toe but it was all systems go at Hayes Lane where the 26-year-old played just under an hour.
Hollands admitted it had been difficult watching on from the stands as his team-mates kicked off at Welling on July 14 but now his sole focus is being available for the Championship opener at St Andrews on August 18.
He said: “It is not nice, you are always playing catch up until you’ve played the same amount of games as everyone else.
“I just need to get the minutes underneath my belt personally.
“The other lads are still getting there in terms of games, we are still only playing 60 minutes and there is still a long way to go but we are going in the right direction, that’s the main thing.
“We are winning games, which is also a positive.
“It is a long pre-season. I will be fit come Birmingham but it is up to the manager who he chooses.
“It is just getting my fitness right and getting things right on the pitch and I would love to be in the starting XI come Birmingham away.”
Having been beaten in the play-offs last year, Hollands is the first to accept Birmingham will be formidable opponents but it is something the newly-promoted Addicks are going to have to get used to.
“Every fixture is tough in that league,” he said.
“You look down the whole fixture list and you think ‘where is the first three points going to come?’
“They are all very good teams and are all going to be very tough places to go, and even when teams come to us it is going to be tough, but especially the first few games when you look at Birmingham, Leicester and Hull now with Steve Bruce in charge.
“They are probably all teams that are going to look to push on and get promoted so it is going to be a very tough start to the season but they are games you want to play in and do well.
“There are two ways of looking at it really.”
And Hollands is in no doubt what the main difference is between League One and the Championship.
“If you make a mistake you are going to get punished,” he explained.
“The strikers and wingers are fantastic but on the other hand so are the central defenders.
“You’ve got people like Curtis Davies who were linked with teams in the Premiership so it just shows you the amount of quality there is in the league. It is going to be a great test for us and one we will really enjoy.”
Hollands was one of the numerous signings drafted into The Valley last summer by Chris Powell and missed just three games as the Addicks ran away with the title.
He is the first to admit Championship football was always the goal when he joined but nobody is guaranteed a spot in the first team just because they were a regular last season.
Hollands said: “You go into pre-season and people who played well last year might not do as well pre-season so they might not start the season.
“It is a clean sheet, you are all fighting for your place and you all want to be in the starting XI come Birmingham away.
“It is the same squad but with other faces who didn’t feature as much last year but want to be part of it this year so we are all competing for a place in the starting XI and it is the same for everyone.
“When a team as big as Charlton are in League One and they are spending money, there is only expectation and that is to get promoted.
“Thankfully for us we had a superb season with 101 points, getting promoted, beating some of the records that we set so it was a fantastic season.”
He added: “But like I said, it is a clean sheet this season and if we start really badly then people are going to be on our backs, they aren’t going to remember last season.
“But we are positive we can compete with teams in the league and do ourselves proud so we are just making sure we are going to be ready come the first game of the season and try and progress each and every game we play.”
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