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Midfield ace set to be recalled against Palace
DALE Stephens is expected to return for Charlton for their crunch derby against local rivals Crystal Palace tomorrow night.
The cultured midfielder missed the trip to Nottingham Forest a fortnight ago as he was subject of a deadline day bid from Premier League side Aston Villa.
But manager Chris Powell fully expects Stephens to hit the ground running again now he knows he’ll be a Charlton player until at least January.
The Valley boss said: “It was my decision, and my decision only to leave Dale out at Forest with regards to all the speculation and the possibility of him moving on.
“I felt it was right to take him out of the preparations because if I had prepared for him in the team and then we had lost him at 10.55pm on the Friday night, it would have disrupted us.
“Unfortunately for Dale it never came off because I’m sure that he would’ve been looking at the possibility of becoming a Premier League player.
“But he’s here and he’s in a good place with regards to his physical and mental state.
“He’s at a good football club and we’ve given him a good stage, and obviously other clubs have liked what they’ve seen.”
Powell added: “He’s trained well and he played in the friendly against Chelsea and played very well, and is now in contention for the rest of the games.
“Dale is a good player and I always want good players here, but I would never stand in anyone’s way if they were to move on and better themselves.
“But it hasn’t happened, of course both clubs have to agree so he’s still here and he comes into contention each and every week that he’s fit, so we move on.”
In the disappointing defeat at Forest one positive that could have been taken by the Addicks manager was the impact made by new signing Ricardo Fuller.
The ex-Stoke man came on late in the day and scored Charlton’s consolation, although it has since gone down as an own goal.
Powell has had two weeks to assess the fitness of his new recruit and admitted he is likely to be more regularly involved, possibly beginning tomorrow night.
He said: “Ricardo is training with us and is doing everything that we’ve asked of him, but he’s missed a good five or six weeks, which is really important for a footballer because they’ve got to get that base and conditioning in their system before they sharpen up.
“But he’s been doing extra work, we managed to get the game against Chelsea, which was put on specifically for him and the lads who have been on the bench.
“So his fitness is getting there and he is showing us some Premier League quality every day, it’s good for the rest of the squad to see.
“It’s something for the squad to aspire to, he’s played at the top level for a long time and he will add some good quality to us.
“It’s up to me to make sure whenever he gets the start, that he’s ready for it.
“But I think in the small cameo at Forest he showed us and the fans what he’s all about.
“I’m really looking forward to him wearing the red shirt at The Valley and displaying his qualities.
“I think everyone will be quite excited by it as well.”
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