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Five Things: Bolton Wanderers 1-0 Hull City

What can we take from our first game of 2018

Bolton Wanderers v Hull City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Andrew Kearns - CameraSport via Getty Images

Back to back wins means Wanderers now sit nicely above the relegation zone, it’s therefore important that we address what we can do to stay out of danger.

Squad Rotation

Following an enforced return of 3-5-2 at Sheffield United on December 30th, Parky re-instated his favoured 4-2-3-1 system at home on Monday and the consistency in results allows Parky to now go into each game with an open mind as to which system he goes with and which players he should use. Prior to the changes at Sheffield United, Parky seemed reluctant to change the team or the formation and despite such a similar tactic being a winning formula last season, such rigidity cannot be justified at Championship level. Despite the return of that rigid system bringing us our second win in two days, knowing that the majority of our squad could be considered for both systems hypothetically means we shouldn't suffer in the event of some major injuries.

Squad depth and contract renewals

Despite Ken’s recent comments in one of his many notes, that our squad depth is far larger than he would prefer, I don’t think that this is necessarily a bad thing. Hearing the rumours that Vela and Derik could be on their way out whilst an extension of Josh Cullen’s loan is hanging in the balance, we could be stuck for options if Pratley and/or Henry’s injuries are serious. Luckily, Henry’s early bath seemed to be precautionary, however the return of a re-occuring issue to Pratley’s ankle could force Parky and Kenneth into making some very big decisions in the next few days. At the back, Wheater often struggles for fitness and despite the irregularity of us playing twice in two days, on a week where there’s a game on a Tuesday night and Saturday’s either side, the inclusion and retainment of the West Ham lads is a must if we want to have any chance of staying up.

Goalkeeper situation

Despite receiving considerable criticism from our fanbase earlier in the season, Alnwick has really stepped up to the mark recently and has done brilliantly to retain his two clean sheets in a row now against two very decent sides. Having brushed off the competition from Mark Howard for the number one spot, it’s just a case of ensuring he keeps up this good form because without him, scoring more often would mean nothing at this stage. Meanwhile, youngster Jake Turner has been making regular appearances on the bench, whether this is as a result of upping his game, or simply for financial gain should he be on the move in the next few weeks, either way it’s good to see him given a fair chance and on the odd occasion, perhaps he’d be worth starting if Alnwick’s form dips, keep an eye on that one.

Adam Le Fondre

As I said previously after the Sheffield United game, it’s really good to see him back in the side. However, to be given four minutes to make an impact shows that despite his good intentions, Parky is still reluctant to change it up. It’s fair enough if you're winning, but I’m hoping that now Armstrong is just about surplus to requirements and if we begin to struggle again, he’ll be given his chance before the 85th minute. I hope that eventually he’ll perhaps even be handed a few starts on occasions where we may revert to a 3-5-2 where Alfie is normally preferred. I just hope that if Pratley is out for a while and Vela is dropped deeper then he could be equally as effective in a 4-4-2 situation. The worst thing we could sell him and despite convincing myself he won’t go, our transfer strategy scares me. Fingers crossed he stays. Long live Alf.

Gary Madine

I take back anything negative I’ve ever said about him because he’s our bloody saving grace right now and he’s single handedly ripping it up. Everything about Madine right now screams confidence and I’m so glad for him that he’s managed to adapt so well to life back in the Championship. Even after a slow start, you can't ask any more of him right now. I think you'd have to say he's already favourite for Player Of The Year and he's definitely not finished where the goals are concerned. What a goal that was by the way on Monday, unstoppable. He’s in the form of his life and long may it continue.

On to Saturday where we’ll all be hoping we can upset Premier League new boys Huddersfield in the Cup, COYWM!