The excitement of being in League One increases with Charlton playing their first ever game against Cheltenham Town at Whaddon Road tonight in the League Cup. It would not have been possible last year as Cheltenham were in the National League.
Cheltenham is a spa town, but if you come in from the motorway you will pass the Government Communications Headquarters which undertakes Britain's electronic surveillance. No doubt there will be a few anonymous men and women from GCHQ in the crowd tonight, but at Charlton we have people who work for MI5. Incidentally, I can recommend my colleague Richard Aldrich's book on GCHQ, available at an airport bookstall near you or at a knockdown price on Amaazon: GCHQ
Cheltenham Town manager Gary Johnson has only 14 fit senior players for the tie. Club captain Aaron Downes (ACL), Jack Munns (knee), James Dayton (ankle) and Asa Hall (groin) are out along with suspended midfielder Kyle Storer.
Addicks striker Lee Novak is likely to retain his place, again playing with a cast to protect his broken hand.
This may seem as if it is a meaningless match, but it would be good to get a win rather than lose to a newly promoted League 2 side. My fear is that we will lose on penalties, exhausting the squad, although it is likely to include a number of players who would not normally feature. Odds are: Cheltenham Town 15/8, Draw 12/5, Charlton Athletic 7/5.
Referee Brendan Malone from nearby Wiltshire will make sure the city boys are shown no favours. You can read an interview with tonight's 44-year old man in black here: Family business
Incidentally, it is being reported that £7m is now being offered by Burnley for Dale Stephens and we have no sell on clause!