Kevin McNaughton targets Reebok revival
KEVIN McNaughton wants to seize his fresh start at Wanderers and already has designs on remaining at the Reebok beyond a month-long loan.
The Scottish full-back was thrown in for his debut against Blackpool on Tuesday night just three hours after international clearance was granted by FIFA for his temporary move from Cardiff City to be completed.
He may have fallen down the pecking order in the Premier League but the experienced defender rewarded Dougie Freedman’s decision with a man-of-the-match display in the 0-0 draw at Bloomfield Road.
And though his initial deal will see him stay with the Whites for just 28 days, the 31-year-old is open to the idea of extending the move and has already been given the blessing of Cardiff boss Malky Mackay.
Now he intends to convince fans at Wanderers – only the third professional club of his 13-year professional career – that he is worth a longer stay.
“Things haven’t been going so well for me at Cardiff so if that door is shut then another one has opened for me now,” he said.
“I’m here for a month and I have got to prove myself first.
“I’ve no problem staying here for three months so long as all parties are happy.
“I just want to get back playing. I’m not getting any younger and I want to be involved in as many games as I can before I hang up my boots. I’m not someone who can just sit and watch.
“Yes, Bolton are in a difficult situation but this is a great chance for me to go and show my stuff and help them get back up the table.”
McNaughton boasts 279 appearances for Cardiff, where he remains the club’s longest-serving player, and has helped the Bluebirds to an FA Cup final, a League Cup final, one play-off final and finally promotion to the Premier League last season.
A Scotland international with four caps to his name, the silver-haired defender has been surprised by Wanderers’ poor start to the campaign but feels more performances of the calibre shown at Blackpool will soon see the club moving back in the right direction.
“When we played them last season they beat us at home and I think we were lucky to get a draw at Cardiff, when Bolton were on a great run at the time as well,” he said.
“It’s one of those things in the Championship. You can very quickly get on a downward spiral and I have been in teams that have gone 10 games without a win, in fact I did at Cardiff and I think we were top of the league at the time as well.
“I must have played 250 games in this division and I know what it is about. It is muck and nettles at times and that game (at Blackpool) showed it. Anyone can win a game and they are fine margins.
“It was an improvement because I could tell from the reaction of the supporters, who seemed to enjoy it. If we keep up that kind of performance, the results will come.”
McNaughton arrived at Wanderers on Friday knowing none of his new team-mates and after seven-and-a-half years in South Wales, admits the experience of starting all over again in the North West is an extraordinary one.
“It was strange even putting on a white jersey,” he said.
“I’ve only played at two teams in my whole career and I came to Cardiff from Aberdeen when I was about 23.
“I didn’t know any of the lads either. It was weird – a totally different training environment and stadium. But when you get out on the pitch it’s no different.
“There are a lot of experienced boys here and so it has been pretty easy to gel in the dressing room, especially as there are a few who have done the same thing and come in on loan.”