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Match Preview: Bolton Wanderers v Charlton Athletic

Charlton come to the Reebok on a seven match unbeaten run, but as Bolton supporters know, seven unbeaten does not necessarily mean seven impressive performances.

If Bolton are to win this weekend, Keith Andrews will need to be a human shield (of the back four).
If Bolton are to win this weekend, Keith Andrews will need to be a human shield (of the back four).
Paul Thomas

The news this week has been all about injuries. We will get to that. But first the good news: Uh, well, we have...ummm, OK. Wait, I got it! Tyrone Mears is back from suspension. That is (relatively) good news. Well, unless you want to see Joe Riley get some time at right back it's good news.

Now the bad news: This Saturday, at 3 PM, Bolton Wanderers will host Charlton Athletic in an nPower Championship League Match at the Reebok Stadium. Charlton sit twelfth in the table, with 29 points from 21 matches. They have scored 28 goals while conceding 26. Bolton have scored 30 goals while conceding 32. As we all know, or should know, those six extra goals allowed are the difference between fighting for a playoff spot and sitting in eighteenth place, where Bolton are currently located.

Now let's discuss the defense, which doubles as discussing the injury news. We are all well aware of how much we will miss Mark Davies, but is the same true of Matt Mills? I don't think it is. While Mills has been Zat Knight's most common partner, it is far from clear if he has been his best partner. Tim Ream, while he has had some shocking moments, hasn't been horrible overall, and Sam Ricketts has done his usual solid job when asked to fill in at that position. Given the back line's need for some semblance of consistency, I think it will be Ricketts to partner Knight. Mears will be on the right, and Stephen Warnock will be on the left, although I personally would prefer to see Marcos Alonso get the start.

I am fairly confident of that being the starting back four on Dougie Freedman's team sheet. That could mean that the rotation policy is coming into a clearer focus. It could also mean that we haven't had a midweek game in a bit, giving the players more chances to rest. The holding pair of Keith Andrews and Jay Spearing is also unlikely to change. At the moment, they are the only healthy players suited for that role in the squad. An injury to one of them would be much more damaging than the loss of Mills or Mark Davies will be.

Charlton have really spread around the goal scoring this season, so there is not one danger man Bolton need to keep track of. The Whites will need to be disciplined and keep their shape. Not exactly their strong suit. As usual there will be goals, and as usual this match will be decided by who allows the least of them. A clean sheet would be brilliant, but I wouldn't put any money on that happening.

The attacking hasn't really been a problem. Sometimes the Trotters look great going forward, sometimes they don't. A lot of chances are created though. The finishing certainly needs some work, but Bolton are rarely held goalless. It would be nice to see a little more of a cutting edge, and we do have ways to provide that.

I leave you with this: Martin Petrov has two league goals this season. We have won both those matches. He also has two assists this season. We have drawn both those matches. As far as we know, he is fit and available for Saturday.