MICHAEL Appleton questioned why Charlton’s fringe players failed to stake a claim in today’s 2-0 FA Cup defeat at Gillingham.
Injury ruled out Miles Leaburn and Conor McGrandles, with Leaburn set for a prolonged spell on the sidelines after going under the knife today for a hamstring injury sustained in Tuesday’s win over Cheltenham.
In total there were five changes made to the starting XI from midweek which saw Lucas Ness, Nathan Asiimwe, Louie Watson, Tyreece Campbell and Slobodan Tedic all named on the team-sheet.
But the entire team failed to deliver as first half goals from Macauley Bonne and Timothee Deng sent the League Two club through to the third round, leaving the Valley boss less than impressed by those given a chance to shine.
Appleton told Charlton TV: “One of the easy things to look at, and it is 100 percent solely down to me, is there are three or four changes today than there was on Tuesday night.
“One of them (Leaburn) forced as we know, or a couple depending on how you look at the Conor situation.
“But if you change three or four players in the team, you certainly don’t expect the performance levels to drop as low as what they’ve done today.
“That’s the slightly worrying thing from my point of view.
“The players coming into the group, they’ve all had minutes at some point and they’ve all been exposed to this type of game.
“From that point of view, there was an opportunity for one or two of the players to really take the bull by the horn, drive forward and ask questions of me, basically.
“There wasn’t enough players asking questions of me today.
“None of them can knock on my door and ask me why I’m not in the team.
“That’s what you want. As a manager you want to be put under pressure by your players and unfortunately for the next game I won’t get that.”
Appleton accepted the result was a poor one and had few complaints about the outcome, highlighting how his side had failed to muster any signs of a comeback after such a woeful first-half.
He said: “We were just second best to be fair in a lot of areas of the pitch.
“Early on in the game there were probably four or five players that were always second to the ball, always in between sort of positions, didn’t play forward, wasn’t aggressive enough and we paid the price.
“We gave away a couple of poor goals, which is one thing, but even coming in at half-time I’m always positive from that point of view because the reality is we’ve got 50 minutes to sort it, to try and get back into the game.”
Appleton added: “We are very strong normally in the second half of games and we just didn’t do enough.
“We had a lot of territory in that second half but I can’t remember the keeper making too many saves.
“I don’t remember how many times the ball came into the box and we weren’t there getting the first contact.
“In one v one situations we weren’t aggressive enough to get the other side of our man, so it was a difficult one.”
But despite the inevitable post-match disappointment, Appleton knows there is little to be gained by being too critical in public with a busy month of football coming up before the transfer window opens.
He said: “A strange day – not one that will live long in the memory if I’m being honest.
“But having said that, we’ve got to be careful because pretty much what is in that dressing room there is us now until January.
“They probably need a little bit of picking up after today because there was a few of the younger ones in the group who suffered massively.
“The one thing I would say is we’ve got a game in midweek (v Reading in EFL Trophy) to try and address that before the seriousness starts again next Saturday.”