By Tony Leighton
Charlton Athletic face Leeds United on Saturday aiming to head into the international break with their unbeaten run stretched to six games as they begin to climb the Sky Bet Championship table after a disappointing start to the season.
The Addicks were expected to challenge at the top end of the table after finishing last term only three points below the Play-Off places thanks to a tremendous run of five wins and three draws in their last eight outings.
But they failed to carry that momentum on into the current campaign and, at the beginning of October, they were lying just one point above the relegation zone.
They have since edged themselves five places and three points clear, however, and with four successive clean sheets ahead of their meeting with Leeds at the Valley manager Chris Powell is in positive mood.
"We're in a good place right now," Powell told football-league.co.uk, "and leading up to the international break it would be great to get a good result against Leeds.
"If you get a decent result just before the break you can't wait for the next game, although if you don't do so well you've got two weeks to stew on it.
"Whatever we do against Leeds, though, what we've done recently will help us to keep moving towards the top half of the table."
What Charlton have done recently is make solid progress despite something of an injury crisis, key players such as Yann Kermorgant, Johnnie Jackson, Leon Cort and Richard Wood all missing matches.
Powell added: "We've had some injuries and we're still suffering, but we've just got on with it and I've not complained. I put my trust in the whole of the group of players that I've got and I'll always have that.
"I aim to give them the confidence to go out and play, but I also expect them to give that confidence to each other to perform and express themselves - and the way they're playing shows that it's rubbing off on one another."
The Addicks will almost certainly have to perform well to beat Leeds, who like themselves have improved of late. A run of poor result saw them slide down the table, but they are back up to eighth after winning three of their last five games.
Powell is hoping for a similar elevation for his own team as, despite their slow start to the campaign, they look to improve on their ninth-place finish last term.
The manager said: "Our aim is to get into the top 10 and then see where that takes us. Leeds will be difficult for us, but if we play as well as we have recently and show the same concentration levels then we'll give ourselves a real chance."
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