Whites can profit from defender Dawson's goal hunt
CRAIG Dawson reckons he is not far away from rediscovering his goal-scoring knack.
Until television replays proved otherwise, it seemed as if the on-loan West Brom defender had chalked up his first Wanderers goal on Tuesday night. In the end, his presence alone was enough to cajole Derby defender Richard Keogh into putting through his own net.
While Baggies boss Steve Clarke has warned the Whites to forget signing the England Under-21 international on a permanent basis, his presence in the last three games has also been sufficient to spur some defensive improvement in those around him.
And Dawson aims to return to the Midlands with some goals under his belt, having earned a reputation as a poacher earlier in his career with Rochdale and at international level.
He has yet to score for his parent club West Brom but the 22-year-old fancies his chances of chipping in with a goal or two during his spell with Wanderers, having become the focal point at set pieces.
“I’ve had a few chances and it’s something we are working on in training,” he said. “Hopefully in the next game I’ll be able to get on the end of one.
“It’s always nice to get a goal and I’m sure they will start coming because Jay Spearing has been putting some great balls into the box in the last couple of games and I think we look dangerous at set pieces.
“All I need to do is get my head on one of them now.”
Dawson was credited with the opening goal at Pride Park for much of the night before eventually coming clean well after the final whistle.
“I couldn’t claim it. It came off the defender's head but it was a great ball in the box,” he admitted. “There were some runners across the defender who made put him off and that’s why it ended up in the back of his own net.”
Dawson’s arrival has coincided with defensive improvement in the last three games and his partnership with Zat Knight in the middle has been one of the more encouraging aspects of the current three-game unbeaten run.
And despite conceding several years to the experienced former England international, Dawson is comfortable barking out a few instructions when necessary.
“He is a top pro and if I tell him to do something, he will listen. And vice-versa,” he said.
“He has got so much experience behind him; it’s great to play alongside him. We are talking a lot and learning off each other as well.”
Back in the Midlands, Dawson’s manager Clarke has been tracking his progress with interest.
Wanderers beat a clutch of Championship sides to the young defender’s signature last month when the Scot decided to send him out for first-team experience.
But Clarke is keen to stress that Dawson is still very much in his thoughts and believes that he has picked an ideal destination to continue his progress.
“We sent Craig out to get games. He needs games,” said the Abion head coach. “We know what we’ve got in Craig. We’ve got a good, young, English prospect for the future.
“His future is here. That’s something I said when he went out on loan and I will repeat it again: his future is here.
“We will keep an eye on him and we’re pleased he chose Bolton because it’s a good club and he can learn there. They have a good coach (Dougie Freedman). He’s a fellow Scotsman so he must be!
“And it was important he went somewhere where they try to play the right way.
“Bolton play a similar system to ourselves and they try to get it down and play from the back and that was important for Craig.”