There`s a new excitement or marvel when visiting the Reebok of late. It doesn`t surround the atmosphere, performance or even the 3-points. The lowest common denominator of anticipation has sunk deeper than hoping the ball will be moved around the grass effectively enough by the home players to emit joy for supporters.
No, our new wonder, pre-match, to get the Whites` fans` juices flowing is? What will the line-up be?
Oh, I`m getting animated just mentioning it. What will our defence look like against Derby? Will Knight still be in the team, never mind remain captain? If not, who will fill the centre of our back-four? Will Dougie go bold and with consensus by switching Baptiste to centre-back? If so, who will fill his spot at right-back? Then there`s the formation; what will that be? Will Douglas stick to his favourite 4-2-3-1 or will he try something else? Nothing old-fashioned, obviously?
Oh the joy? and this is all before a ball is kicked! Which other club, in all 4 leagues, can boast giving their supporters such excitement before kick-off?
Of course, I`m being sarcastic and I should be giving you a match preview involving rhetoric about our opponents, Derby County- who sit 7th in the table with a +4 goal difference, played 3 away league games, won all 3, scoring 10 and conceding 2- but this isn`t a normal game, or a normal season.
King Kong has now climbed on our back and if we don`t shift him after the Derby game, there`s a real possibility of him picking us up, climbing up the Town Hall Clock and dropping us from the great height.
What shape we`ll be in after that, God only knows.
‘We have to work through the tough times. I have been in this position before as a manager and I know exactly what we need to do and we have to keep on working. We have to make sure everybody understands their roles and we have to stick together.
‘There are suggestions that we have been doing that, we have had very narrow defeats and defeats that have been very hard to take.
‘We lost on Saturday from a set play, we had more possession and we created a number of fantastic situations in the final third against Leeds United but we didn’t quite make the right decisions. However, there are suggestions that we will certainly turn the corner quickly.’
Deluded, diplomatic or desperate. However you view our manager’s comments, this is what he said.
Bolton Wanderers Team News:
Now for the exciting bit. What will our line-up look like?
One thing’s for sure, there’s no Moritz, Holden, Mavies or Vela. But will there be a Zat Knight?
This section isn’t about injuries or suspensions anymore, it’s about predicting the line-up. So I’ll give it a go; be sure to give your prefered line-up at the bottom:
Mears Baptiste Mills Tierney
Ngog Eagles Hall
If that team doesn’t provide chances for Beckford or protection to Bogdan, then we haven’t got such players at our disposal.
Player to watch: Dougie Freedman
It’s been a while since Dougie has been the one to watch, but if he doesn’t win tomorrow, it may be the last time we can watch him. Watch him as the home manager in the dug-out, anyway.
Other than the ice making an ominous noise under his feet, not dissimilar to the sound of Space Candy, Dougie’s team selection tomorrow may be the start of the rest of Bolton Wanderers’ season.
Either with or without Freedman…
Derby Team News:
Manager Nigel Clough reported no fresh injury problems following the success against Millwall at the weekend.
Midfielders Jeff Hendrick (ankle) and James Bailey (knee) and centre-halves Shaun Barker and Mark O’Brien (both knee) are the only players who are unavailable.
John Eustace made his first Sky Bet Championship start of the season at Millwall and the midfielder looks set to keep his place in the team.
Player to watch: Craig Bryson
Wanderers will have to be on their guard to keep Craig Bryson at bay following the 26-year-old`s hat trick at The Den at the weekend.
The Rams` midfielder looks likely to keep his place in the starting line-up for the clash at the Reebok.
Match Facts & Stats
Bolton Wanderers and Derby County meet for the 123rd time on on Tuesday evening, with the Rams currently holding the upper hand in terms of victories with 59 in all competitions as opposed to Wanderers` 45.
Match prediction? Doesn’t have to be a score or outcome, does it?
My prediction is: If Zat Knight starts, we will concede.
An away trip to Brighton for some reason.