Only strong characters can save us, says Pardew

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The Independent Football

Alan Pardew knows only "strong characters" can help drag Charlton out of the relegation struggle. The Addicks have been turned down in their £1.3m bid for the Sheffield Wednesday defender Madjid Bougherra, but a loan deal for the unsettled Seville striker Kepa Blanco could materialise. "French clubs, English clubs and German clubs have shown an interest in Kepa," a Seville spokesman said. "One of those clubs is Charlton Athletic."

The future of the leading scorer Darren Bent also remains uncertain, with Pardew having to decide whether to cash in on the £12m-rated England striker - out with a knee problem - to release funds to attack the January sales.

However, as the club are seven points adrift of safety heading into the match at home to Middlesbrough on Saturday, the Charlton manager knows this is no time for the faint-hearted.

"I am going to look for strong characters in the team, people who can take responsibility and look to play when things perhaps are not going so well," said Pardew. "I am sure after the season they have had they are delicate specimens in terms of their confidence and I am not going to be too harsh on them.

"However, they need to quickly wash away the negative things, otherwise we are not going to make it. It is only going to be about what we do between now and the rest of the season that will determine our future. But I am not too disheartened about what I have seen."

Charlton are unbeaten in the two home games following Pardew's surprise appointment on Christmas Eve as successor to Les Reed, but their wretched away form must improve if they are to avoid the drop. "We have to make sure we address that because it is victories or points on the road which will determine whether we go down or stay up," Pardew said.