There’s a massive local derby today as Bolton Wanderers welcome Preston North End to the University of Bolton Stadium.
Bolton are in desperate need of three points, having not won in 2019 and with only one victory since September. Despite that dire form, Bolton are still somehow only three points from safety - three points behind Rotherham United, who entertain Wigan Athletic this afternoon.
The Championship relegation battle is swiftly turning into a four-horse race, with Millwall now four points clear of Rotherham and Wigan a further two points clear.
That means matches like this are absolutely vital if Bolton have any chance of staying up. However, Bolton have failed to defeat Preston in their last five attempts, with Preston winning on their last two visits to Bolton.
And that trend seems unlikely to end here given a severe lack of goals. Senior strikers Clayton Donaldson and Josh Magennis have gone a combined 56 (FIFTY-SIX!) league games without scoring a goal. Furthermore, Bolton have only managed to score 13 goals in 20 matches and 15 goals in their last 25 league matches.
Phil Parkinson’s answer to that is to bring Magennis in for Donaldson, with wide support from Sammy Ameobi and Craig Noone. David Wheater looks like he’ll be partnered by Marc Wilson at centre-back with Jonathan Grounds at left back and Callum Connolly on the right - all of which is more than a little bit worrying.
Preston look to be going with a 4-3-3 led by Tom Barkhuizen with support from Sean Maguire and Paul Gallagher. The midfield runs of Brad Potts will be a major threat, while centre midfielder Alan Browne’s six league goals this season is more than any Bolton player.
Here are this afternoon’s starting line-ups. You can follow all the action from the UniBol in the Comments section below.
Bolton Wanderers (4-3-2-1): Remi Matthews; Callum Connolly, David Wheater, Marc Wilson, Jonathan Grounds; Gary O’Neil, Jason Lowe, Luca Connell; Sammy Ameobi, Craig Noone; Josh Magennis
Substitutes: Clayton Donaldson, Will Buckley, Joe Pritchard, Josh Vela, Lloyd Dyer, Pawel Olkowski, Ben Alnwick
Preston North End (4-3-3): Declan Rudd; Darnell Fisher, Ben Davies, Andrew Hughes, Jordan Storey; Alan Browne, Ben Pearson, Brad Potts; Paul Gallagher, Tom Barkhuizen, Sean Maguire
Substitutes: Michael Crowe, Tom Clarke, Josh Earl, Daniel Johnson, Ryan Ledson, Jayden Stockley, Lukas Nmecha