Charlton Athletic manager Lee Bowyer says three of his squad, including star striker Lyle Taylor, have told him they won’t be involved in the remaining games of the season.
Taylor is out of contract at the end of June so, by coming back, would be risking injury and potentially jeopardising what Bowyer has described as a ‘life-changing’ move.
The Championship is due to restart from June 20 at which point clubs will have nine games still to play.
But Bowyer explains that means asking out-of-contract players to play.
He told TalkSport: “We have 15 out of contract, we’ve got six loans and nine of our own contracted players who finish at the end of June.
“Unfortunately for us three of those players have said they’re not going to play. Lyle is one of them.
“That’s tough for us, tough for me as a manager. He’s a big player for us. A bit like [Troy] Deeney at Watford, similar situation, when he plays, we win games.
“Lyle has said he’s not going to play because of risk of injury. Chris Solly said the same. [David] Davis, on loan from Burnley, says he doesn’t want to come back and play games. We’re three players down. It’s just another hurdle.
“But we’ve got another 22/23 players who do want to play and that’s the most important thing to me now. I’ve got to brush that under the carpet and move on. That’s what we’re doing as a football club, we’ll move on without those players and fight to the end.”
Losing Taylor in particular is a blow but the manager says he can understand the player’s situation.
He added: “He is going to get a life-changing move.
“I was saying this a few months ago when this first happened, when we were talking about the contract problem. I thought this could be a problem because I know how well Lyle has done for us.
“If it wasn’t for Lyle, we wouldn’t even be in this division. He was outstanding last season, he had a great start this season.
“He’s chose now not to come back and play to the end, so we have to move on because I’ve got a lot of players that are hungry.”
Charlton are third from bottom, despite Taylor’s 11 goals. The striker scored 25 last year to help Bowyer’s side to promotion from League One.
Bowyer’s 22nd-placed side are five places and three points behind Stoke City having lost 3-1 to Michael O’Neill’s side at the bet365 Stadium in February.