Today is the last day of July, meaning just over 2 and a half weeks until the start of the season. Bolton Wanderers haven't had the most sucessful preseason, and with no fit centre backs currently in the squad, injuries are already a worry. Owen Coyle has of course issued the usual platitudes about "monitoring the market" without giving out any specifics as to budget, positions, number of players, or any other real information. However, it is not yet the time to fret dear readers, as the kick off of the new season is still a ways off. Owen has some soothing words to say to you.
"You'd always want everyone available all the time. But we know we have good players and that they will score goals in the Championship. We haven't been able to use Marvin because he has been playing for Team GB, and I thought he did really well the other night. David has had a bad back, but he trained really well the other day and it's just a case of not risking him at the moment.Those two do give us a different threat. The skipper is as good a target man as you'd want to find anywhere but both Marvin and David are able to go in behind defenders as well, so that creates different problems. It will be nice when they are back on board but we'd maybe still like to add another option up there."
The club has been pretty quiet on the injury front, not even officially announcing many of the tweaks that have kept some players such as Matt Mills out of the running. This may be because they're minor injuries and the club is playing it safe by resting them, or a measure taken to decrease fan hysteria (not that it has worked as such). Either way, it would be nice if the club was more transparent on this front.
"There's no concern at the moment in front of goal because we are creating chances. We missed some sitters today and their goalkeeper made some fine saves. The other players will contribute too and add to the goals. With every game that goes by, we will get sharper. For most of the afternoon we had four full-backs playing in defence and it was pleasing to see how they all adjusted."
The focus on missed goals has not only been an on-going theme for pre-season, but the entirety of the last year. When chances are few and far between, as sometimes happens with the Bolton midfield, it's crucial to take them when they arrive at players feet. I'm not inclined to seriously judge players' ability to do that based just on these preseason matches, but it is certainly something that needs to be worked on if last season is any indication.
"I think Chung-Yong Lee, game by game, continues to get better. He's an outstanding player at any level. Chung-Yong Lee could play anywhere. He's so intelligent on a football level and it was good to see him in there because he's very clever on the ball. He knows the positions to take up and, of course, that's one of the things you look at in the pre-season because it affords you that opportunity to do so."
The return of Chung-Yong Lee, and hopefully Stuart Holden (another matter the club is keeping irritatingly quiet about), will make a massive difference from last season. Chungy has already looked very good in the minutes he's gotten, and there's no denying that a player of that quality will make a huge different to the team. As Coyle pointed out, he's also growing as a player, trying out more central positions. His speed and skill are valuable on the wing, but his ability to read the game and place a cross could also be deadly in the central midfield. I'm excited to see how he grows as a player in a new league after effectively sitting out last season.
As it is the squad is definitely not perfect, but we must remember that we are the Bolton Wanderers and the squad will not ever be perfect. Injuries will always be a worry and the club doesn't have the money or the reputation to attract really big names. Coyle's strategy of buying fading stars and up-and-comers hasn't always played out perfectly, but it is the direction a club like Bolton need to go in. I wouldn't mind a few more additions to the squad before the season kicks off, but the club could go on without them.
How do you think the Bolton squad is shaping up? Let us know in the comments.