December is always a busy month for football, and for Bolton Wanderers it is a vitally important month of football. There are a mix of winnable home games against teams in the bottom half, as well as us hosting one of the top dogs in the division, and three away games, and they`re always difficult for us.
Tomorrow it all starts with the hosting of a young Barnsley team.
Widely expected to struggle before the start of the season, they`ve done a fair bit better than us, They`re 18th, six points clear of the relegation zone, and seven clear of us going into the weekend. We lost our long but not very effective unbeaten streak last weekend, but tomorrow should be viewed as an essential set of three points to be picked up if the plan is to stay up.
“We got enough to be okay. We`ve got some experienced players and all we can do is dig deep and try to take as many points as possible. We all know the situation, I joined the club when it was rock bottom and we know full well it`s going to be a long season, but we`re looking forward to cracking on.”
Karl Henry in the Bolton News
Bolton Wanderers Team News:
David Wheater has picked up a one-match ban after his yellow card last weekend, meaning Reece Burke will partner Mark Beevers in defence.
Player to watch: Adam Armstrong
Last season Armstrong was plying his trade at Oakwell but his first spell of Championship football didn`t really work out, only scoring six goals in 34 appearances. Although I`ve said time again I`d rather see a winger on the left, Armstrong will likely play again tomorrow and hopefully can bag just a second league goal for us against his former employers.
Barnsley Team News:
Adam Hamill is back after he was suspended for their midweek game. Mamadou Thiam may be back from injury, but Steven Mallan is unlikely to be able to take to the pitch.
Player to watch: Harvey Barnes
Barnes has generally played on the left of midfield this season, joining on loan in the summer from Leicester. He has scored five and set up four, and has recently been called up into the England Under-20 setup.
Match Facts & Stats
This is our first game against Barnsley since April 2014, Jermaine Beckford scored just before half-time in a 1-0 win, with Chris O`Grady missing a late penalty. None of the Bolton squad that day will feature tomorrow, with David Wheater suspended.
Bolton have won one of their last six games, losing last week and drawing the other four. Barnsley beat relegation strugglers Burton and Birmingnam, but have picked up just one point in the four games since, and have lost the last three.
Barnsley have won two of their last five away games, and drew two, losing to Reading on Tuesday.
Bolton`s last league defeat to the Tykes was in August 1997 when both sides were newly promoted to the Premier League, since going 11 unbeaten.
Darren Pratley has either scored or assisted four goals in his last three games at the Macron.
It won`t be easy but this has to be a winnable game. Doesn`t mean we`ll definitely win it, but I reckon we will. 2-1.
An East Midlands double. A trip to Nottingham Forest next weekend, before we host Burton the week after