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Tim Ream was an obvious Man of the Match against Derby, but will he even start this weekend?

Dougie Freedman has some big decisions to make this Saturday. Bolton took only one point in two straight home fixtures, and has only three points from 21 overall. Tim Ream has performed well in losses and draws, but that may not be enough for him to make the cut.

Richard Heathcote

Tim Ream was Man of the Match against Derby.  There is little doubt about this.  In fact, it was arguably his third MOTM performance already in this young season.  That said, he is a defensive midfielder earning plaudits for a side that are leaking goals.  This story seldom ends well.

Ream was picked ahead of Medo Kamara, who is a better player overall.  All indications are that manager Dougie Freedman is trying different partnerships in key areas, and different formations and tactics as well, in a bid to find some form with his under-performing club.  I think that Ream, despite his individual form, could be dropped.

Bolton played a 4-2-3-1 at home against Derby County.  This is a formation that can be very attacking, or very defensive, depending on personnel.  On Tuesday night, it was quite attacking, with Rob Hall, Chris Eagles, and Chung-Yong Lee making up the midfield three.  I find it very unlikely that Freedman will remain that attack-oriented at Brighton on Saturday.  I also find it very unlikely that Medo will be on the bench again.

Jermaine Beckford has basically started every match this season.  I don't rate him at all, but Freedman seems to think highly of him.  If Beckford starts again, which is likely, that has a knock-on effect for the entire team.  Basically, in an away match, Bolton will want a target man, and Beckford has shown no ability to serve that role.  So either David Ngog or Craig Davies will have to start.  Most likely Ngog will replace Hall.  But as I said earlier, Medo is likely to return, as is Darren Pratley, who put together his own string of MOTM performances earlier this season.

Here is my prediction for Saturday's team;

Adam Bogdan

Alex Baptiste, Matt Mills, Zat Knight, Marc Tierney

Medo, Pratley, Jay Spearing

Eagles, Ngog


Now, to be clear, this is not the team I would pick, and I don't particularly like this setup, but I feel that Dougie is a little bit lost right now.  A lot of ink was spilled last season on the steadying influence of the backroom staff which joined Wanderers from Crystal Palace.  It would be nice to see some of that about now.