Bolton Wanderers take on Sheffield Wednesday this Saturday aiming to pick up their first home win since February.
Wanderers host the Owls at the University of Bolton Stadium and are seeking three points at home for the first time since beating Lincoln City 3-1.
Bolton have five games of their campaign left to go and are seeking to finish as high up the League One table as possible since the midweek draw versus Portsmouth realistically put an end to their play-offs aspirations.
READMORE:Bolton Wanderers’ Dion Charles learns punishment for historic social media posts in FA rule breach
Darren Moore’s side meanwhile they are in the top six as things stand and will be seeking to solidify their place with a positive result this weekend.
Before the game, Wanderers boss Ian Evatt spoke to the media and here’s a full transcript of what he had to say to broadcasters heading into the encounter.
What’s the latest injury update?
“We’re waiting on the results of scans but Dapo (Afolayan), Kyle (Dempsey) and Ricardo (Santos) all injured their hamstrings and will all miss Saturday.
“On top of that, we’ve got one or two others that are carrying knocks and niggles and also some illness in camp so back to scraping the barrel.”
Have you got the options you’d prefer with the injuries?
“We’ve said to the players in the week this is a huge football club that is heading one way and while it looks like we haven’t got a lot to play for, you’ve always got something to play for.
“Number one, we’re professionals and there’s an expectancy at this football club to win. We’re in the business of winning, we’re in the business of football and you’re expected to perform week in, week out.
“Number two and on a personal note, this club has lofty ambitions, we’ve had a very good January window and we’ve also got a summer window coming up and these players need to show that they’re able to kick on with this club and they’ve got to perform accordingly.
“Obviously it’s a really challenging game on Saturday, they’re flying high, they’ll bring a lot of supporters here but we’ll do the best we can. There’s no doubt about that and whatever team I put out I’ll expect to be competitive.
“I think we’ve lost three games since the middle of January which is exceptional really and we have to carry that on for the remainder of the season.”
On this season, only three teams have gone into the Championship from League Two and because it’s been that type of season, has that been in any way decent preparation for next season?
“I think so. Football seasons are a long, long time and it feels like a lot has happened this season. We’ve been through a lot and going back to your point about back-to-back promotions, I think it’s feasible from the National League with the amount of money being spent in the league and how close it is to League Two, but after that is where it stops.
“I think the gulf between the top 11, 12 clubs in this division compared to League Two is ginormous and gigantic and bigger than we probably all realized to be honest, and then likewise again in the Championship. I’d be amazed if we see that again at any stage really.
“Our job this season was obviously to look at being in the top six and I feel like it’s kind of an opportunity missed. Some of it has been our own doing, some of it we’ve been awfully unlucky with injuries at key times of the season and I think we’ve left some points out there but I guess every team can say the same thing.
“It’s about carrying momentum through to next year and we know what’s expected of us next year, there’s no denying that, so finish strongly and then regroup and recruit in the summer and go again.”
The Dion Charles situation has been put to bed?
“Obviously it’s been bubbling away in the back. We’ve said all we need to say on that, Dion’s apologised, in no way, shape or form do we condone any of those actions but thankfully it’s been dealt with now and put to bed.”
Is it over or does it just appear highly unlikely now for the play-offs?
“Miracles do happen but it’s going to take one. We’ve given ourselves an awful lot to do and this is kind of a freakish season if you look at the points in this division at the top six compared to the points in the Championship or in League Two.
“I think 60 points now in the Championship would have you two or three points off the play-offs. 60 points here and you’re 12 points off so it’s been one of those crazy seasons where there seems to be a huge gulf between the top teams and the bottom, but we’ll give it our best shot and try and win every game we play like we always do.
“I’m disappointed with the two draws so far this week against two good teams but it shows you how far we’ve come.”
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It feels as though the evolution of the club on and off the pitch is going on very nicely?
“I think so. I think we’re in a really good place. Obviously there’s a huge expectancy here and rightly so, it’s a big football club, but we’re not the only big football club in this division and they all have their own expectations.
“For us it was about building a structure and a foundation moving forwards, we’ve done that, we’ve recruited well in January and we’ve got another summer window to come to get even better and stronger and it’s just about keeping moving forwards really.
“Things are progressing well on and off the pitch, this club is chalk and cheese from where it was two years ago so credit to everybody, but we’re not resting on our laurels. We want to achieve more and we’ll be continuing to work very hard to make sure that happens.”
How strong are you going to emphasize the message that this season has to end as well as possible?
“We’re professionals and we’re in the business of winning and we have to make sure that we try and win every game we play. We don’t celebrate draws and we don’t go anywhere to draw and if you can’t win then you don’t lose and we’ve done that over the last couple of games and I think earlier on in the season we could have quite easily lost both of those games so it shows how far we’ve come.
“But we need to keep progressing, concentrate on our own performance levels, obviously we’re riddled with injuries again which isn’t ideal, but it gives opportunities for players to come in and stake a claim to keep the shirt and get in my plans for next season because expectations are rising all the time and nobody has greater expectations than myself and this board so we want to keep challenging and keep progressing as best we can.”
For those players that will have the opportunity for the first team, how important is it that they fully take on board what playing for the first team has to offer?
“They all should know, there’s no denying that and the messages are always consistent and the same. Fitness and sharpness-wise, it’s difficult to maintain being 100 per cent match fit when you’ve not played regularly but they all look after themselves, they all train intensely hard, they’re all coached the same way so there’s no excuses there.
“They have to come in and stake a claim and do the business.”
Sheffield Wednesday are in the top six right now, they can’t afford any tiny slipup otherwise they might find themselves in League One for another campaign?
“Regardless of the size of your club, you haven’t got any entitlement or any given right to be promoted. They’ve got to go out and earn it and I’ve got no doubt they’ll be doing all they can to try and make sure they finish in the top six but there’s some big teams fighting for those places, so we want to be ultra-competitive.
“I think Darren is a wonderful man, an experienced guy and he’s going to have them really well coached and set up but one we’re looking forward to.”