Matt Mills is as good a candidate as any for a Bolton Wanderers Player of the Season award. He has served as captain for a substantial period, he has anchored a revitalized back four since Neil Lennon took over, and he has even performed admirably as a forward against Liverpool in the FA Cup. In fact, he is joint club leader with five goals on the season. Ignoring how pathetic it is that our club leader only has five goals after 30 matches, it is still an impressive CV. The good news is that Mills is back in training after missing a couple of matches through injury, and looks likely to feature against Watford FC this weekend.
Now, the bad news. Although Mills' likely return is a boost for Neil Lennon's squad, there are still a lot of first team players who are unavailable. We all know that forward Max Clayton, midfielder Mark Davies, and goalkeeper Adam Bogdan are out long-term. We can add Darren Pratley and Liam Trotter to that list, as neither has a definitive return date. Forwards Emile Heskey and Craig Davies are shooting for next weekend's match against Nottingham Forest (and Dougie Freedman).
To combat this injury epidemic, Neil Lennon has quickly brought several of his news signings into the squad. Look of the like of Barry Bannan, Saidy Janko, and Filip Twardzik to continue to play a prominent role. Zach Clough seems a lock to return to the starting XI as well.
As for Watford, they are currently fifth in the table, and banging in the goals. Odian Ighalo alone has 11 goals in his last seven league appearances. This is not the ideal situation for Wanderers' shaky defense. I doubt we will be seeing a back three at the Macron on Saturday. This is a big match for Bolton, a chance to show that they can hang with the big boys, that the recent dip in league form was due to distraction from the FA Cup replay, and that a late playoff push is still realistic. Mr. Lennon, take note; Here is my starting XI:
Dorian Dervite Matt Mills David Wheater Tim Ream
Saidy Janko Neil Danns Barry Bannan Josh Vela Zach Clough
Adam Le Fondre
It's a very attack-minded group, but we are at home, and that is where our talent lies at the moment.
I'll go with a 3-2 home win for the mighty Bolton Wanderers.