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Match Preview: Bolton Wanderers v. Hull City

I'll make this much of a difference this time.
I'll make this much of a difference this time.
Michael Regan

The last match with Hull was not a happy one and if their lofty place in the Championship (only 5 points off league leaders Cardiff City) is anything to go by, the Tigers haven't slowed down in the last 5 months. Meanwhile, Bolton sit 16th in the table, only 4 points from the relegation zone. The fact that the Trotters have only lost once in the last 6 games (wining one, and drawing the remaining four), seems to indicate that perhaps they are finally finding the rhythm they have so sorely lacked this season, but hosting Hull will be a real test of that.

There is good news. In what may be a surprise to many Bolton fans, the team does significantly better at the Reebok, winning 47% of games played their as opposed to 12% when on foreign turf, a reverse of last season's trend. Hull, on the other hand have been fairly consistent home and away, so the advantage may be lessened.

Once again, the outlook is good for Bolton on the team selection front. Leftback Marcos Alonso will once again be available after serving his one game suspension, which could mean that Sam Ricketts is relegated to the bench after his bad error which led to Derby's equaliser last match. That is the only solid team news we have, although Medo Kamara and Stu Holden are both supposedly available, it is another story whether Dougie Freedman will play them or not.

An attractive option would be to allow Medo to step into the hole in the defensive midfield left by injured Keith Andrews, to partner Jay Spearing. It is unlikely that Stu will be handed a start, but he could provide a good substitution option for Mark Davies. The wings provide a conundrum for Dougie. He has two high quality players in Chris Eagles and Chung-Yong Lee, but neither are anywhere near their best, so it might be wise to give Steve de Ridder another start and another chance.

Whoever plays in the defensive midfield will have a busy day, and Dougie classified Hull as a counter-attacking team, something Bolton has always been susceptible to. The Tigers were recently fortified by an influx of Egyptians, adding Mohamed Nagy, known as Gedo, and Ahmed Fathi to their roster and re-signing Ahmed Elmohamady. The trio has proven very effective, with Gedo scoring in his last three appearances. Bolton will need to play a tight game to keep Steve Bruce's lethal squad in check.

With all of this in mind, it seems pretty clear that Bolton are in a position to get a good result tomorrow. However, that has been true many times this season, and something still isn't clicking for the squad. It's impossible to say from the outside what exactly is going wrong, and it's entirely possible that it's a matter of time, that the players are still adjusting to Dougie's reign.

Whatever it is, Saturday against Hull would be a good time to turn things around, something I say pretty much every match. One of these days it will come true.