CHARLTON boss Chris Powell insists nobody has yet made an offer for Dale Stephens – but conceded the team are “vulnerable” to losing key players this month.
His thin Addicks squad saw a good week in a long period of arduous away trips end at Doncaster last night in a one-sided 3-0 defeat.
The disappointing result came on a day when fans were already dejected from several reports Brighton were closing in on pinching midfield maestro Stephens from their Championship rivals.
But although Powell cut a weary figure after the Donny defeat in what is always a tough month for sides in Charlton’s situation, he nonetheless stated such a transfer was far from as advanced as some had reported.
“There’s nothing concrete to reports of Dale Stephens leaving,” he said. “As I say, there’s always speculation over bids and this is an example of that.
“It’s just how it always is. “Until I am told differently, Dale remains here. “Hopefully we can stave off bids like that if they come but I am a realist.
“Every player has his price but hopefully we can keep our better players here.
“I know a few managers including myself will be happy when the clock strikes midnight on transfer deadline day.”
Powell added: “These reports can also affect the players, because they read them and they speak to their advisors about them.
“We’re vulnerable to exits in January, as other teams will try to boost their own squads and we could definitely be vulnerable to that.
“We have some good players here who have shown their quality, not just this season but last season and the year before that.
“People will always keep an eye on the players I have here and perhaps also on the things we are going through as a fallen club and see this as a good time to take advantage.
“There’s nothing I can do about that.
“It’s not great for us in that respect but we have a job to do, to get our side out of the position it’s currently in.
“We have to dust ourselves down and after tonight’s display, we have to turn that around.”
Charlton lost Lawrie Wilson to a straight red card, from which Rovers doubled their lead before finding a third in the second half.
Powell lamented the fact after a splendid week in FA Cup action last week he and the squad struggled to find that form where it mattered most – in a crucial league fixture near the bottom of the table.
“No, it wasn’t our night,” the manager conceded. “I felt the way that we started, compared to the way Doncaster started, made it look like we were in for a long night and we were.
“In one of the biggest games so far this season it looked like a game too far for us.
“I haven’t seen the red card again but at the time it did look like a foul so the referee had no option in that situation but to send him off.
“It’s a shame as you need your full complement of players out there when you’re behind so obviously it makes it harder when you’re two down once the penalty is converted.”
Powell added: “It was the worst performance of the season so far from us in one of our most important fixtures.
“Our squad isn’t very large and red cards of course will not help us.
“I’ve blooded in a few youngsters because of our squad depth but as I said to the players we have 20 games to go still. That’s a lot of games.
“Sometimes you have to take stock of things and we have a long journey home and another long trip at the weekend to do just that. But that’s the way it is.
“It doesn’t help when you have knocks and sending-offs but I won’t take anything away from Doncaster. They put us to the sword.
“We knew the position we were in. I’d rather points on board than games in hand but we knew the deal coming in.
“We need to lift ourselves for the next game.”
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