After an international break that I for one didn`t actually mind coming around, it`s back to the stuff that matters most tomorrow as we host Middlesbrough.
We`ve had a tough start to the season, and it doesn`t get easier this weekend, with yet another pre-season contender for promotion in town. Middlesbrough have spent money to fix last season`s goalscoring problems but, similarly to us in a way, probably would have liked a couple of more points on the board.
We do however have some better injury news, and a new signing in Craig Noone, which gives Phil Parkinson more options when setting up a plan.
“We`ve used the two weeks to get players back onto the training pitch, and sat down with lads individually and collectively and discuss what we need to do better because the consistency levels within games and from game to game isn`t where we need it to be. There`s improvement from all of us to be had and that`s what we intend to do.”
Phil Parkinson explaining to the official website how the fortnight has been spent.
Bolton Wanderers Team News:
David Wheater should be fine to come back into contention this weekend, while new signing Craig Noone should be ready to go. Josh Cullen played for the Ireland under-21 side in Azerbaijan on Tuesday, and may not be fit enough to play. Josh Vela and Sammy Ameobi remain unavailable, while Jem Karacan and Will Buckley are both doubts. This could well be Derik`s best chance of getting a start in central midfield.
Player to watch: David Wheater
You could call this game the David Wheater Derby. The man from Redcar joined us from Middlesbrough back in 2011, which now seems a lifetime ago. If he is ready to go, it would be interesting to see if a fully fit Wheater improves us defensively. As we saw, he was poor against Leeds before the revelation that he was playing with the injury which has since kept him out.
Middlesbrough Team News:
Ryan Shotton and Marvin Johnson, both new arrivals on Teesside, could both start, but they will be without Martin Braithwaite and Rudy Gestede, who are both injured. It should mean we will see Ashley Fletcher, who as a kid watched Wanderers from the Nat Lofthouse Stand. He`d better go easy on us then.
Player to watch: Adam Clayton
You could say he may be The Edge for Middlesbrough. The midfielder has played every game for them so far this season, and has been consistently good, not giving the ball away. He has been a fixture for them over the last few years, establishing himself in the middle when Aitor Karanka was boss.
Match Facts & Stats
We lost our last game against Boro, when Jordan Rhodes scored the winner in a 2-1 victory in April 2016. Our previous home loss to them, the season before, was their first win at the Reebok/Macron. Whatever. Just do not call it BL6. It`s not a trendy London suburb.
If we lose tomorrow, it would be our fifth consecutive loss to Boro.
Middlesbrough are winless in 20 league away games, with the last six all ending in defeat. Their last win came in a 2-1 win at Sunderland last August.
In light of Middlesbrough`s poor away league form, I am betting all your money on them. Bolton 0-1 Middlesbrough
We host Sheffield United on Tuesday, before travelling to Ipswich next Saturday.