Manager Dougie Freedman is not afraid to call Bolton's young guns into the fray. With just two matches remaining this season, Bolton Wanderers are in control of their own destiny but a trip to Cardiff City certainly will not be easy. Instead of going with known quantities, it seems that the boss is looking for a boost from the squad's youngsters.
Since Dougie Freedman's arrival, Bolton's match day squads have included the likes of Josh Vela, Joe Riley, Sanmi Odelusi, Tom Eaves, and Chris Lester among other young options. Apart from Lester, all have seen competitive action in league and cup matches.
Eaves was the team's most recent debutant, having been handed his debut against Leicester City ten days ago before making a second appearance in last weekend's Middlesbrough match. The big forward has not scored yet but what he has done is put himself about well.
It was in thatlast match that Chris, our man in the stands, really had a good look at Eaves. In his "Five Things" post, Chris wrote:
Eaves arrived onto the pitch and immediately took up position against the experienced Cameroonian defender Andre Bikey. Using his strength and touch he gave the defender a tougher ride than Craig Davies had, and he showed one or two neat touches and got in some decent positions.
So on this short showing it appears that he has benefitted from exposure to regular and competitive first team games. His game has come on in leaps and bounds from the awkward teen who was a regular in the reserves for Owen Coyle and the club can certainly benefit from it.
It is that kind of performance that caught the eye of Dougie Freedman. Speaking in his pre-Cardiff City press conference, the manager made it clear that he was more than happy to test Eaves in high pressure situations:
"I love working with young players and it really makes my day to get them on the pitch.
"I thought Tom Eaves was wonderful when he got his opportunity last week - holding the ball up, chasing the ball down. It was a real good performance from a 21-year-old who was nearly forgotten at the club."
That attitude from the boss is what could see highly-rated Zach Clough thrown into the mix on Saturday. Since moving up from the U18s to the U21s following an impressive first half of the season, the young center forward has really made his name known thanks to a strong goal-scoring record. In eight matches for the U21s, Clough has scored five times. Those goals have come in three games with a pair of braces for the youngster, coming against Stoke City and Crystal Palace.
As a result, Zach Clough's name could join the list of youngsters who have already seen competitive minutes for Bolton Wanderers. The manager spoke very highly of him in yesterday's press conference:
"Sometimes it's a crime in football just working with what you have got. I like working with someone like Zach - someone who you don't quite know what they've got, but it's something I like."
"He's someone we identified right away when I came through the door.
"He's been travelling with the team and in squads and you're going to see someone you really like when he gets on the pitch.
"I'm excited for you guys to see him because then you can start writing about it.
"He's a great young guy who could just possibly help us through this last couple of games."