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Is Survival Possible for Bolton Wanderers?

There seems to be renewed optimism amongst the Bolton fan base the team can dig their way out of this, but is that realistic?

Can we actually do it this time?
Can we actually do it this time?
Michael Steele/Getty Images

So Bolton Wanderers have suddenly discovered how to win and are now unbeaten in three league games, I didn't think I'd get to say something like that for a while. Our upturn in fortunes has left us three points adrift although MK Dons have a game in hand meaning the gap may be four points.

So can Bolton bridge that gap and survive?

Our next match is away to Brighton and Hove Albion which lets face it is a loss. Moving on we welcome Queens Park Rangers to the Macron who haven't set the world alight since Jimmy Floyd Hasslebank took over. I watched them at Bristol City and they were terrible. Having said that we are also awful and QPR's quality players will likely be enough to get at least a point off Bolton, so lets say we will draw that game.

We then travel down to Birmingham to face a side currently only three points off the playoffs. Again this is a stonewall loss for Bolton. We then welcome local rivals Burnley to our humble abode. A team on form who will without a doubt beat Bolton to take the local bragging rights, well if they brag about it then they really have their priorities skewed.

So I see Bolton taking one point from February, not a great tally for the great escape. Maybe March will be kinder to the Trotters?

We begin the month away at Leeds United who have done alright as of late, apart from losing to Nottingham Forest in a match more boring than watching paint dry according to the Leeds manager. Its highly unlikely Bolton will win on the road this season and I do not see it happening against Leeds. But right now gazing into my crystal ball I can't kick the feeling we will grab a point so lets go with a draw.

Bolton then have back to back home games. First off Ipswitch Town visit looking to continue their play off push. I don't see Bolton winning but why couldn't a battling home side nick a draw against Mick McCarthy's side? Next up is Preston North End. This is a must win game if there is any hope of survival and I hope for the sake of anyone who decides to go it is far better than the game at Deepdale... Preston are comfortable in mid table so I can see a battling Bolton taking all three points from this one.

The next game is another must win against relegation rivals Bristol City. There is no doubt that at the end of March City will still be in trouble. Having appointed a new manager it remains to be seen how well they will be playing by this point, but like I said above I simply do not see Bolton winning on the road this season so have to say it will be a draw which won't be of much use to either side.

So that would be a solid month for Bolton taking six points and remaining unbeaten throughout. But will it be enough for a club in as much trouble as Bolton?

April is a bumper month with no less than seven games, and no more than as it happens. This will be the month where any escape will be decided. Come the beginning of April Bolton will be able to get out of this mathematically as lets face it however bad we may be the other teams down there will be almost as bad at the very least.

First up is Reading at home. Reading are comfortably mid table and I have no reason to believe that will change either for a play off push or a relegation tumble. As such this will be a team in their comfort zone while hopefully Bolton will be fighting, so I will say Bolton can kick off this key month with a big win.

After Reading comes consecutive away games. First we travel to Brentford who will most likely beat us. Currently they are upper mid table and will likely have a little too much for us. Then its Derby County and lets face it there really is only one way this will go. I probably don't have to say it but that is a stonewall loss, hopefully not a thrashing just a loss.

Then we have two home games. First up is Middlesbrough who will be looking to keep up the push for automatic promotion and will do so with a win at the Macron. After that is Charlton Athletic who will be desperate for a win as well. We have to win this game if survival is to happen, and frankly for a little pride on our way down if not. I think we will win this game putting a nail in the Charlton coffin and maybe giving a welcome boost to our own great escape.

After our two home game we travel to the provincial capital Cardiff looking to record back to back wins and a first away win of the season. Cardiff City at this point may be looking to see through on their play off bid, but may also have nothing left to play for. I'm going to say Bolton will lose, though if Cardiff do have nothing to play for then who knows? The final game of the month sees Hull City visit the Macron. They may well be looking at automatic promotion at this point and will be up for the match. There is no way Bolton will get anything from this match and Hull will take all the spoils.

So from a bumper and important month I can see Bolton getting six points which from such  a big month is likely no where near enough.

Overall going into the last game of the season I can see Bolton gaining 13 more points which would leave us on 37 points. Last season the magic number was 41 points if you had a better goal difference than Millwall and the year before it was 44 points if you could better Doncaster Rovers' goal difference. Given how weak the teams down there this year are it would be no surprise if the points total needed is lower than in previous years.

So this would mean Bolton would need a win really on the last day of the season to stand a chance. Looking for this we travel to Craven Cottage to take on the might of Fulham. I can see Bolton sneaking a draw if we need something and Fulham do not.

That would leave Bolton on 38 points. Will that be enough? Who knows. One thing is for sure Bolton can still get out of this, the only thing which is not for sure if whether they have the quality to pull off the great escape.

Those of you who have bothered reading this far may be thinking Bolton will do better, or worse, than I've forecast so feel free to give your view in the comments below.