Last night the Trotters had their first proper run out since the Match We Must Not Speak Of (why always Stoke?!) in May. It was largely an excercise in experimentation, showing the gaffer what you've got, and well, excercise. Because neither Ayr United nor Bolton are important enough to merit any cameras, apparently, it's difficult to draw any real conclusions from the match itself unless you were there. That said, Owen Coyle was there, and he had something to say about it.
"We changed the whole team about - we used 22 players and scored a very good goal. We could have had a few others if truth be told. I thought Marcos took his goal wonderfully well - it was a good finish.Tonight was a terrific advert - both teams were trying to play the right way, trying to pass and move the ball, albeit they defended in numbers.
"There was a youthful exuberance in the second half. Young Josh Vela was outstanding for a lad that's just 18 years of age, and there's obviously young Joe Riley, Tom Eaves, Michael O'Halloran, Adam Blakeman and Jay Lynch. We know we've got young talent coming through the club, aligned with quality, experienced players. Then there are the likes of Mark Davies and Adam Bogdan.
"All-in-all, I'm very pleased with how tonight went - you are always disappointed to concede a goal but you've got to credit Ayr United with that. Again, we had travelling fans that turned up to support the club and we thank them for that. It was great to see the Bolton flags and the supporters coming up to make the journey on a wet night."
Isn't it nice to be back? The comforting platitudes, and cheerful positives are all there, an absolutely classic Coyle interview. In spite of Coyle's relentless positivity, he has got a lot of things right in this interview. Even though Bolton conceded a goal to a Scottish third division side, the main point of the match was to try out new combinations, and get in a bit of real match time. He also highlighted the amount of youth in the side, something the club should continue to look to throughout the season.
One of those youngsters is Joe Riley, reserve player, Botlon academy graduate, and now first team competitor. Last season, he put in a few appearances, notably his Premiership debut starting in the 5-0 win over Stoke, but injuries and team trouble in general kept him out. Riley put in 45 minutes at right back, and the 20 year old will be providing cover and competition for Tyrone Mears in the coming season. He also had a word with the official site,
"When you're young you have to come in and you've always got to be making impressions and showing willingness. There is a bit of competition between me and Tyrone [Mears] and Sam [Ricketts] can play there too. If you get given a chance you've got to try and stay in the team and try and stay injury free.
"Obviously I broke through and did well and then to get setbacks with injuries and stuff like that was very disappointing. Hopefully this season I've learnt from that and now I can push on and get a run of games going if I'm picked. I think you've just got to look to the future and stay positive. Hopefully this season I can play a lot more games."
We hope to see the other young members of the Bolton squad emulating Riley's attitude.