Bolton Wanderers travel to Rotherham United today in League One aiming to give the new era a kick-start and also to get our survival campaign back on track.
Starting the game on -11 points, Wanderers have a mountain to climb. That said, with the arrival of ex-Rochdale manager Keith Hill to the club and the signing of no fewer than NINE players on deadline day, we can perhaps expect an unfamiliar looking Wanderers side come 3pm.
How the new manager will integrate the fresh signings remains to be seen - indeed just how match-fit these guys are is another question altogether, but what cannot be doubted is that the majority will significantly improve our chances of getting a result.
That isn’t meant to be a slam against the youngsters who have performed so heroically this season to date, more that it give Wanderers the opportunity to allow them to breathe and to learn their craft away from the spotlight and from the pressure that having to carry the likes of Jason Lowe and Luke Murphy in the side.
So what kind of team will Keith Hill select?
Hopefully Ben Alnwick will return to replace Remi Matthews. You can imagine that Josh Emmanuel and Jake Wright will slot immediately into the defence, whilst I’m convinced that Liam Bridcutt is going to be a cracking player for us this season.$
Joe Bunney is another new signing but obviously given the injuries suffered in his somewhat mysterious car crash last week it may well be another few months before we see him wearing a white shirt.
Will Buckley has rejoined the club but doubts still remain over his usefulness for us - indeed most fans would rather see Dennis Politic continue to be given his chance.
You have to imagine that Chris O’Grady or Daryl Murphy will start the game up front, and whether Hill chooses to include Verlinden in the starting XI remains to be seen.
Either way it’s going to be an exciting afternoon and you’d have to think that the side will be at its most confident going into the game.
Bolton will be backed by a sellout away following of some 2,500 fans, all hoping that the party atmosphere seen against Bradford City in the U23 cup the other week will be continued into this league fixture.
Oh yeah, and Rotherham are playing too.