Zat Knight in the firing line
DOUGIE Freedman reckons Zat Knight can take criticism over his recent performances on the chin – but stopped short of saying his skipper would be dropped for tomorrow’s clash with Leeds United.
After receiving abuse from his own supporters during the 4-1 defeat at Blackburn Rovers last time out it was even speculated that centre-half Knight could leave the Reebok before the close of the transfer window.
But with the 32-year-old still very much a part of the squad looking to bounce back from the derby nightmare with its first win of the season, Freedman admits that, if selected, the former Villa man could owe Whites fans a big performance.
“At the end of the day players get paid very good money, I’ve never had a problem (with fans criticising). It baffles me that people do,” he said.
“I have always found that Bolton fans have supported when it is deserved. I have found they have criticised in matches when it has actually been deserved.
“I don’t have a problem but as far as individually with Zat, I can understand the frustrations but I also know he was as frustrated as anyone else. He’s desperate to put it right.
“I understand it and fans pay good money. We’re in the professional game, so that’s the way it goes when you are cheered or booed. We handle it.”
Barring long-term injuries, Freedman has a full squad to pick from and it now remains to be seen whether his starting line-up against Leeds will be affected by the poor display at Ewood Park.
The likes of Chris Eagles, Andre Moritz and Marc Tierney are now full fit - which points heavily to changes.
Fans have been particularly critical of Wanderers’ defending after five winless Championship games so far but the manager believes he has seen a response from his whole squad on the training pitch in the last 12 days.
“The fans have been fantastic, even at Blackburn,” he said. “I don’t think they have put a foot wrong and I think they have been patient.
“We are in a position that has surprised us, to be very honest. We never thought we’d be here.
“We had a few difficult moments with form, suspensions, injuries and not having won, so the break came at a nice time for us, giving us the opportunity to work very hard on the training ground to put things better than they were.
“I think we are close. In certain games we have shown potential. Performances in certain games have been good.
“We just need to make sure that our all-round game is better and this 10-day training break has given us that opportunity.”