Date: 10th March 2009 at 4:30pm
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It`s fair to say that Bolton striker Mustapha Riga is a bit miffed. The Ghanaian born Dutchman who was a summer signing from cash-strapped Spanish club Levante, has made only three starts so far this season and hasn`t even made the bench since the game against Tottenham at the end of January.

‘I just want to be in the team and in the squad. Last year I was playing and making goals but not getting paid. I prefer not to get paid and play each week,` he said, referring to last season when Levante couldn`t afford to remunerate their staff. In the current financial climate he`d better off keeping that one to himself – Wanderers owner Eddie Davies might take him up on the offer.

Whites fans, or at least a section of them, took Riga to their hearts early on in the season, as he appeared to be the flair player that they had longed for, a fact that isn`t lost on him.

‘If it wasn`t for the fans I would already be dead, but they keep me alive,’ he told the Bolton News. ‘I hear the fans shouting my name and it cheers me up.

‘I will carry on working hard and, as long as the fans stick by me, I will be trying my best to get into the team. It`s more frustrating because I know I can help but I can`t show it. The style of The Premier League would suit me.`

Can Riga force his way into the team, or is he another who will exit the club without being given a chance to show what he can do? The portents are not good. Judging by his previous record, once Gary Megson decides that he`s not keen on a player, there`s no going back, and Riga has been unimpressive in his first team outings, particularly at Arsenal when he came on as a substitute and was then himself replaced.

Yet the striker is undoubtedly skilful, effortlessly quick, and whilst playing in La Liga, had a scoring record of better than one in four – all attributes that could be of use. It may be that Riga is not capable of adjusting to the English game. It is faster than the corresponding one in Spain and decidedly more physical. But so far he hasn`t been given sufficient opportunity.

Then there`s the other major problem. Bolton`s passing. It`s appalling. Those tasked with leading the line get very few accurate balls to run onto – a flaw that has similarly inconvenienced Johan Elmander and Ebi Smolarek. The likes of Kevin Davies may be equipped to battle for possession, but Riga is less capable in that respect.

Riga is the victim of a selection dilemma. He needs a run of games in which to establish himself, but with Bolton still not certain of Premier League survival, that luxury is difficult to afford. So he may be reliant on the club being safe, with a few games to go. If that happens, the ‘The Bullet` may get his chance to shine. If not he probably won`t be at the Reebok next season.

Should Riga Get His Chance?

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