DOUGIE Freedman has been assured that while he has signed a “nuisance” on the pitch in Barnsley’s Craig Davies – he is a pleasure to work with off it.
Wanderers kicked off their January spending with a £300,000 deal for the pacy Oakwell front man, who has already hit nine goals for the struggling Tykes this season.
And the man who set Davies on the road to six international caps for Wales, veteran coach Brian Flynn, believes Freedman has landed a gem, despite the bad-boy tag that has followed him throughout a much-travelled career.
“Craig is a handful on the pitch and can give defenders nightmares,” he told The Bolton News. “He is an absolute nuisance when he is playing well – in a football sense ‘a pest’.
“I gave him his debut for Wales Under-21s and he was outstanding for me. He scored a hat-trick in about 20 minutes against Estonia and had a scoring record at that level that was something else.
“I’m not sure why it never happened at senior level for him but I didn’t have a moment of trouble with him. He was different, yes, but not difficult.”
Davies started out at Manchester City and has since had 11 professional clubs, including a short spell at Hellas Verona in Italy, recently finding his greatest success with Chesterfield and Barnsley.
He has had disciplinary problems at international level and was once banned for five matches for spitting – but Flynn reckons he has become a more complete striker in recent years. “He has played for a lot of clubs and maybe not got off the best start at one or two but that’s the life of a striker,” he said. “Sometimes you find the perfect fit and recently he has done very well.
“It's that kind of form that has got him to Bolton – and he’s the kind of lad who has a knack of being in the right place.”
Freedman has previously hinted that the 6ft 2ins striker, who was compared to Welsh target man John Hartson earlier in his career, is more likely to be played on the right side for Wanderers.
And Flynn thinks he could complement his namesake Kevin in the Whites’ attack.
“I don’t think he was ever going to be another John Hartson for Wales, he’s just a different type of player,” said Flynn, who is now in caretaker charge of League One Doncaster Rovers.
“He gets in behind defenders, always on their shoulder. A bit livelier than John was as a player.
“But in terms of a football education then I think Craig can go to Bolton and learn a lot from a player like Kevin Davies.
“He would be a very good foil to someone who holds the ball up as well as he does. And I really hopes he makes a success of the move.”
Wanderers exploited a buy-out clause in Davies’s contract at Barnsley to land him for a cut-price fee and Freedman was delighted to finally be able to land his man.
“Craig is a player I am really fond of,” he said. “I actually tried to sign him a couple of years ago and he will bring all the right ingredients to our club.
“He is hungry. He hasn’t got the t-shirt of playing in the Premier League, but is desperate to get it. He’s a good age and represents very good value for the football club.
“He is the type of player I want around the place.”