So it is the one of the biggest days in the sporting calendar, football is back. No not that pretentious Premier League thing everyone cares about. Real football.
A new season brings new challenges and opportunities. It will also bring a new team sheet. It was all change this summer at Bolton Wanderers with so many let go. That means we will be seeing a raft of league debuts today.
So this is how I see us lining up;
Clearly Alnwick will start in goal. That is a no brainer.
The defence will have a fairly familiar look to it. Marc Wilson is not yet up to speed so Andrew Taylor is a shoo in. David Wheater and Mark Beevers will resurrect their double act at the centre of the park. The one change on last season may come on the right, with Pawel Olkowski starting over Mark Little. That is what I think will happen at least as despite being decent for Bolton last year Little is a full back with flaws.
Parky used a 4-4-2 in pre-season but you have to feel that away from home against a promotion favourite in West Bromwich Albion he will play with more in the centre of the park. On that basis I see Jason Lowe, Luke Murphy and Josh Vela operating in the middle of the park. Erhun Oztumer will push Vela for the attacking midfield spot, but based on his lack on pre-season action he will not start today.
Then we will have Sammy Ameobi and Yanic Wildschut. Ameobi is always Parky’s preferred winger, and hopefully there will be increased competition this season to keep him on his toes. Wildschut is the new signing with the real potential to drive Bolton forward this season and will surely get a go in the opening round.
Up top in all likelihood it is Josh Magennis. Parky has finally found himself someone to replace Gary Madine and I do not see him starting on the bench with one up top. Yes that means dropping Adam Le Fondre, but hopefully we will see him get more game time alongside Magennis at home and in less challenging fixtures.
The bench will then contain stop gap goalkeeper Ben Williams. The defensive reinforcements will be Jack Hobbs, Little and Wilson, who will bring versatility despite not being ready to start. With Wilson covering defensive midfield as well, Oztumer, Craig Noone and ALF will complete the bench.
When I look through that team I have mixed feelings. It looks like it is a little stronger than last season on paper, but last seasons team did look horrendously weak on paper at time. I also feel that there could be improvement across the park.
Hopefully now that we have some squad strength we will have enough to put in a respectable season. We have proved everyone wrong for the last two seasons and it is time to go out and do that all over again.
West Brom away will be a tough challenge. Will they be ready for the Championship after so long in the big time? Only time will tell. A big game like this does though give Bolton the opportunity to lay down a marker. A win is highly unlikely, but a competitive performance would set us up nicely.