Pearce Gets Closer

Ian Pearce will return to the first team squad for Saturday's game against Middlesbrough.

Uninformed sources claimed his absence from Wednesday's reserve side against Charlton was because of injury, but coach Roger Cross explains:

"Ian is fit but we are a little bit thin on players for the first team squad at the moment so we had to pull him back out of this game today.

"Obviously he will be in the first team squad for Saturday's game against Middlesbrough and it really is a big boost to have him back."

He went off after 70 minutes of his comeback reserve game against Arsenal last week after a shocking challenge by Edu, but Roger is at pains to point out:

"It was a bad tackle but he got over that; he is a big strong boy and he could have played today."

There was further good news on the injury front with Steve Bywater coming back after a long lay off, and Roger comments:

"Steven had his first game since he broke that bone in his wrist and he saved a penalty as well."

James Allen was the star of the show in a 2-0 win at Welling - the game was played in the afternoon because of the floodlights not being in use there at the moment - and Roger says:

"It was his first reserve game and he scored two good goals; his movement was good and Charlton had a strong side so he has played against experience today which can only benefit him.

"We decided we would give Freddie Eastwood the first half and he did well, then James came on, worked hard alongside Riza, and the plus was he had two chances and took them both.

"That is something we have not done on a regular basis; we create a lot but we miss a lot, to be fair.

"Both goals were inside the six yard box and I am happy with him; I can see him getting more games, as we have to bring on the younger players especially at this time of year to see what they can do."

The defeat was made all the sweeter by the fact that it was against a Charlton side full of senior players.

"They had an experienced side out there: Ilic was in goal, they has Kishishev, Todd, Rufus, Kinsella, Pringle, it has been a great experience for the younger players and I am very happy," concludes Roger.

TEAM: Bywater, Charles, Soma, Ferrante, Potts, Johnson, Newton, McCann, Eastwood [Allen 45], Riza, Britton.

Subs unused: Ferdinand, Forde, Khan, Dean.