Wanderers To Have 'Dialogue' Over Dion Call-Up

Evatt Charles

Wanderers will have up to five players away on international duty following Saturday’s trip to Derby County, writes Pete Oliver.

But there is no guarantee Dion Charles will be among them, despite his call-up by Northern Ireland.

Charles has been included in Michael O’Neill’s squad for friendlies against Romania and Scotland.

But Wanderers’ top scorer will not be fit for the Whites’ visit to Pride Park to face promotion rivals Derby after missing the last eight games with a knee injury.

And Wanderers’ boss Ian Evatt confirmed that further talks will take place between club and country to best manage Charles’ return to action.

“There's lots of dialogue between our medical department and theirs,” Evatt told Wanderers TV.

“Dion isn't ready to play yet. He's making progress but is not ready yet. It's something we need to speak about to make the best decision for us and Dion and that's where I stand on it.

“I have a lot of respect for Northern Ireland - which is where I did all my coaching badges - so there will be some calm heads sitting around the table to brainstorm Dion’s return to play. We’ll communicate and do what's right for Dion so that we don't break him down.”

Aaron Collins goal Oxford

Charles – who has scored 17 times this season – hasn’t played since suffering medial ligament damage in Wanderers’ win over Wycombe in mid-February.

But in his absence, the Whites have still managed to pass the 100-goal mark in all competitions this season for just the fourth time in the club’s history.

“We always create chances. That's the type of team we are and it's a key indicator for us and one to be proud of that we've got that many goals,” added Evatt, whose side passed the landmark when beating Oxford United 5-0 in mid-week to stay a point behind second-placed Derby in League One.

“It's a collective and that's very much the message from me. Attack or defend, clean sheets or hatful of goals, it's a collective effort and not down to whichever that department is.

“Defenders, midfielders, attackers; it's a responsibility we all take and we all step forward and know what we must do to win and keep clean sheets.”

Wanderers complete a crammed section of their fixture list which will see them play their 20th game of 2024 – alongside two abandoned fixtures – when they face Derby in their final game before an international break.

The Whites’ League One game at home to Shrewsbury Town – originally scheduled for Saturday, 23rd March – had already been postponed and re-arranged for Tuesday, 16th April.

And with national squads confirmed for their up-coming fixtures, the Whites know they will have at least four members of their squad representing their countries.

Team celebration Oxford

As well as Charles, Whites’ defender Eoin Toal is included in Northern Ireland’s squad for friendlies away to Romania and Scotland on 22nd and 26th March, respectively.

On-song midfielder Josh Sheehan is in the Wales’ squad for their Euro 24 play-off semi-final against Finland at the Cardiff City Stadium on Thursday, 21st March.

The winners will then play either Poland or Estonia for a place in this summer’s finals in Germany, with the two losers meeting in a friendly on Tuesday, 26th March.

Meanwhile, Wanderers’ vice-captain Gethin Jones has been named in Australia’s squad for their opening two World Cup 2026 qualifiers against Lebanon, which will be played in Sydney and Canberra on 21st and 26th March.

And on-loan defender Zac Ashworth has been called up by Wales for their Euro U21 qualifier against Lithuania on Friday, 22nd March – and a friendly against Morocco four days later – as they look to stay in contention for a place in the 2025 finals in Slovakia.

After Saturday’s game at Pride Park, Wanderers return to action at Stevenage on Friday, 29th March for the first of their two League One games over the Easter weekend.

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