With a home game against Blackburn Rovers coming up, the talk at Bolton this week, as so often over recent years, has been of injuries. Darren Pratley is crocked, although it’s difficult to tell the difference and the rumour is that Matt Mills has succumbed to a cruciate ligament problem.
Such things happen to players who replace Zat Knight. One wonders if the much maligned centre back has supernatural abilities and spends his evenings at home with an effigy and a box of pins. A pity he can’t focus his powers on the opposition, or failing that Jonny Evans.
With a left-sided defender urgently required so that Tim Ream can join David Wheater in the middle, manager Dougie Freedman, has signed a right-back in Alan Hutton, who hasn’t played first-team football since May 2012. The move doesn’t inspire optimism. This presumably means that Alex Baptiste will eventually move over to the left, where he looks even less assured than on the other side of the pitch.
The former Blackpool man was in the Market Hall this week to launch Bolton Wanderers Community Trust’s new table tennis initiative. In the days of Bruce Rioch, players representing the club were obliged to wear a badged tracksuit or pair of trousers and a shirt. Baptiste pitched up looking like a refugee. One who’d got dressed at a jumble sale in the dark.
The game against Blackburn will be more testing than that against Watford, who by playing with no width, were tailor made for Freedman’s men. Rovers, currently on an unbeaten run of five games, most certainly do employ wide men (no, we don’t mean David Dunn) as evidenced in the reverse fixture, which resulted in an easy 4-1 win for the home side.
Dunn continues to be troubled by by constant jibes over his weight. After the last one he cried all the way to the chip shop. Another notable player for Rovers is Jordan Rhodes, who had such a fine time at Ewood against, you guessed it, Zat Knight. If the six feet seven inch lapse in concentration appears, and it seems he will, then the biggest problem faced by Rhodes, will be keeping a straight face.
For Wanderers fans, the most interesting aspect of the match, will be to see how the team is configured at the other end of the pitch. Two strikers worked last time out, with Freedman claiming that had at last found suitable players to line up that way. He ought to continue with the venture, but knowing the Bolton manager’s liking for crippled-by-caution football, it would be no surprise if he recruits the club captain and his box of magic to strike down Lukas Jutkiewicz or Joe Mason, just before kick off.
– Richard McCormick