Player to Watch: Darren Pratley

Pratley in action against Reading on Saturday. - Chris Brunskill

After scoring Bolton’s only goal against Reading, Darren Pratley equalled his goal-scoring record from last season. The midfielder is in fine form with two goals in two games. Pratley has gone from "Coyle's mistake" to "Freedman's Reclamation." We take a look at how the midfielder has managed this, and what else has Pratley got to offer.

Since has arrival two years ago from Swansea City, Darren Pratley has endured a mixed start to his Wanderers career. In his first couple of games for the Wanderers he looked out of place in the Premier League. He didn’t have any composure on the ball and seemed to be over-enthusiastic chasing the ball around the pitch. In his debut season with the Wanderers despite not being backed from the stands he featured heavily, playing 32 times overall.

After the Wanderers failed to secure their Premier League place at the end of the 2011/12 season, the likes of Nigel Reo-Coker jumped ship. This opened up opportunity for new players to shine, and Pratley stepped up. Last season we saw a rejuvenated player. He’d undergone a transformation and had successfully transitioned from a flop to a first team essential. Last year, Darren Pratley played 35 times overall and scoring twice, notably against Hull in the 4-0 demolition.

Combined with his work rate and vision Pratley, is a quality Championship player, he had already demonstrated this with Swansea, featuring heavily for them in the 2010/11 season which eventually ended up in promotion for the Swans after beating Reading in the Championship Play-off Final at Wembley.

One of Darren Pratley’s key features is his work rate. His desire to chase the ball down and fight for the team makes him a brilliant box-to-box midfielder. At 28 years old, he’s at the prime of his career and still has a few potentially fine seasons ahead of him in a white shirt. With his ability and experience, he’s the type of player every Championship manager wants in their squad and in Bolton's opening two games of the season, he’s already demonstrated his skill.

As fans, we should expect more of the same this year. It’s impossible not to love Darren with his passion and willingness to run himself into the ground. His consistently solid performances are essential to Wanderers’ promotion push this season with the team needing a solid run of positive results like those at the end of the 2012/13 campaign.

Hopefully, Darren Pratley can continue his fine form and help propel the Whites up the table. Maybe, just maybe our season can finish in the same fashion as his final season in Wales did, with promotion.

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