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Bolton Wanderers v. Birmingham City: Trotters need to get back to winning ways

Tom Shaw

To say that Dougie Freedman's Bolton train has gone off the tracks is a bit of an understatement. After an undefeated start (despite not picking up many wins), Bolton have lost three of their last five and each of those losses has come against teams that should have provided comfortable wins for the men in white. In those last five games, Wanderers have managed just four points thanks to a win against Charlton, a draw at Huddersfield Town, and losses against Ipswich Town, Peterborough United, and Sheffield Wednesday.

Birmingham City, on the other hand, are having a much better run of form over their last five games. The Blues have picked up nine points thanks to two wins and three draws. They will be coming off a 2-1 win against Barnsley on Boxing Day thanks to a Curtis Davies double. Despite the form, Brum are level on points with Boton but sit three spots below the Trotters in 19th place.

Bolton Wanderers will welcome Kevin Davies back into the side after he missed the Sheffield Wednesday match due to a yellow card accumulation ban. Marcos Alonso will also be in contention to start the match after he came on for Sam Ricketts late in the aforementioned match. One of the big questions that has to be answered is in the center of defense. Will Dougie partner Zat Knight and Tim Ream again or will Ricketts shift center like he has done in a number of the last few matches?

Whether Dougie Freedman elects to switch back to a five-man-midfield or go two up front remains to be seen but if it's the latter, David Ngog, Kevin Davies, Marvin Sordell, and Benik Afobe are all pushing to start.

Bolton will have to look to find goals from somewhere in the team as Chris Eagles has considerably cooled off lately, scoring just once in his last 15 games. Mark Davies, who was emerging as a real danger man under Dougie Freedman is still out. Kevin Davies hasn't scored in his last five matches and no Bolton man found the back of the net on Boxing Day. Birmingham City will be without their two top scorers.

No fresh injury concerns have been announced for Bolton have been announced with the usual suspects of Mark Davies, Matt Mills, Stu Holden, David Wheater, and Josh Vela all still sidelined. Birmingham City have a lengthy injury list and will be without the services of Marlon King, Peter Lovenkrands, Akwasi Asante, Papa Bouba Diop, Darren Ambrose, Paul Caddis, David Murphy, and Stephen Carr.

The last time these two sides met (September 18, 2012), Birmingham left their home ground 2-1 winners thanks to an early Leroy Lita goal and Marlon King penalty winner.

A win at the Reebok could see Bolton go as high as 14th place, assuming other results go Bolton's way.