Alan Pardew intends to leave no stone unturned as his search for new Charlton players goes “worldwide” this month.
The Addicks’ miserable season was compounded by their FA Cup exit to Nottingham Forest on Saturday.
The battle to stay in the Barclays Premiership resumes with the visit of Middlesbrough to The Valley this weekend, when Charlton will look to eat into the seven-point deficit between themselves and safety.
While the future of injured England striker Darren Bent remains uncertain, Pardew has at least been able to welcome one fresh face to the Sparrow’s Lane training ground this week in China captain Zheng Zhi, who has been signed on loan with a view to a permanent move.
Pardew accepts following the substantial outlay by former head coach Iain Dowie, there is unlikely to be a bumper war chest with which to attack the sales this month.
Nevertheless, the Charlton boss intends to stay active in his search for fresh talent.
“We are looking worldwide to try and improve the squad in the January window,” said Pardew.
“It is difficult because we have not got the sums that other teams in the Premier League have got. The spending in the summer has probably depleted funds to an extent and I was aware of that when I joined, so I have no problem with that. We are going to have to try and be clever – and perhaps a bit left field.”
Zheng can play either in defence or midfield and joined up with the Addicks following an impressive trail during Les Reed’s ill-fated seven-match reign before he represented China at the Asian Games in Qatar.
Pardew feels the player can prove a useful addition to the squad.
“Talking generally, I am a big fan of the energy and commitment to win which Asian players possess,” the Charlton manager said.
“Hopefully ZZ will surprise us with his ability, because he is jumping up a couple of levels coming here. Although he is an international player, the Premier League week-in week-out is a better standard than he has been playing in China, so it will be interesting to see how he looks in the group.
“My experience is that he is going to fit in and hopefully take us forward. Whether or not that will be with Bent spearheading the attack remains to be seen.
The 22-year-old is currently unable to help the Addicks in their relegation battle because of a knee problem, which will sideline the 10-goal front man until after the transfer window closes again.
Pardew admits that leaves him in something of a quandary, desperate to keep hold of his star man, but equally aware of just how an injection of funds could help him bring new blood to fight their immediate battles.
Tottenham, West Ham, Newcastle and even champions Chelsea are said to be keeping close tabs on the situation.
Charlton value Bent – who has not asked for a transfer and only signed a new, long-term deal during the summer – at around £15m (€22m), but would realistically be open to cash offers in the region of £10m (€15m).
Pardew saw his hopes of signing Anthony Stokes from Arsenal dashed when the teenage striker opted to join Sunderland instead.