Former Charlton midfielder Graham Stuart is backing Lee Bowyer to lead the Addicks to play-off glory.

Stuart spent six years in SE7 between 1999 and 2005, becoming a key figure in the side which won the title and promotion in 2000 to establish the club in the Premier League.

The former Valley favourite currently works as an official ambassador at another one of his old teams in Everton, but still retains a strong interest in events at Floyd Road.

And Stuart believes current manager Bowyer is the right man to return Charlton to the big time.

He told News Shopper: “I obviously follow their results and had a fantastic six years at the football club. 

“It has been painful for everybody at The Valley to see them slip down the leagues in the last few years. It is great that Lee has gone into the club and turned their fortunes around.

“He is a proper Charlton man and I think that always helps because it gets a good rapport going with the fans.

“You’ve got a man in charge there who understands everything about the football club and has seen the good times as well. Hopefully through the play-offs he will get them up.”

Asked if the Addicks’ now well-documented fall from grace to League One has come as any big shock, Stuart replied: “I don’t think anything really surprises you in football.

“If you take your foot off the gas just for one little moment it can hurt you. That is what happened to Charlton a good few years ago.

“Just when you think you can get a little comfortable in the Premier League, that sense of complacency can come and bite you. I think that is what happened.

“Sometimes it can be hard to recover. Now they have the opportunity to change their fortunes and hopefully Lee Bowyer and his players will do so.”

Charlton claimed third spot thanks to Saturday’s 4-0 win over Rochdale and now face sixth-placed Doncaster Rovers over two legs in the play-off semi-finals.

This means they could potentially face Sunderland in a Wembley showdown, making a repeat of a certain clash from 1998 a strong possibility.

Ironically Stuart was a member of the Sheffield United team beaten that year by the Black Cats on their way to that Wembley classic, although it is an occasion he is keen to gloss over.

Stuart explained: “The only play-off experience I have was to get beaten by Sunderland when I was at Sheffield United.

“It wasn’t too great either because I broke my hand in the first leg and didn’t play in the second!

“The only advice I can give to any of Charlton’s current squad is to relax and just keep what you are doing. You’ve got two legs to get to the final and that is a lot of football to play so don’t panic.

“As long as you commit yourselves and play in the manner you have done for the majority of the season then you are in the play-offs for a reason.

“They are good players and have a good manager who has created a real spirit at the club. If the relax, play and compose themselves I am sure they will get to the final.”

He added: “I still hadn’t signed for Charlton when the Wembley final with Sunderland took place but it is probably the greatest play-off game that will ever happen purely for drama.

“Charlton and Sunderland are two fantastic clubs and if that ends up being a repeat of the 1998 final it is another fantastic story.

“Obviously my heart is with the Addicks and I really want them to come up to get themselves in the Championship and push on.

“I want them to be back where they deserve to be, which for me is in the Premier League.

“But it will be tough whoever they end up facing because there are some very good sides who are going to be competing as well in the League One play-offs this year.”