Promotion is still our aim, says Bolton Wanderers defender Alex Baptiste
PROMOTION is still the target for Alex Baptiste despite Wanderers’ poor start to the season.
Despite being 12 points off the play-offs and 18 away from the top two, the versatile defender insists the dressing room has not given up on playing Premier League football next season.
Wanderers finally chalked up a first victory of the campaign at Birmingham as the players broke off for the international break, but Baptiste admits hopes of catching up with the leading pack do hinge on building upon that result.
The former Blackpool man is confident that with Sheffield Wednesday and Ipswich Town visiting the Reebok in the next two weekends, momentum is with the Whites.
“We’ve got two home games coming up now and we haven’t won one this season,” he told The Bolton News.
“That has got to change.
“Our main aim is to get promoted. That hasn’t changed in my mind.
“I look at the table and we’re not a million miles away, even though we haven’t played well for the majority of the first two months. I think things are turning now.
“These two home games will be a good test for where we are right now and if we want to be moving up the table they are games we have got to start winning.”
Baptiste has been moved from pillar to post since his arrival in the summer, filling in all the defensive positions.
Though the 27-year-old would prefer to be playing in the centre of the back four he has no qualms over featuring on the left because of the form of current partnership Matt Mills and Tim Ream.
“The two centre halves have been different class,” he said.
“Tim has been man of the match in the last three or four games for me, whether he’s been playing at centre-midfield or centre-half.
“Millsy has come in and been very vocal. He’s organised a lot of stuff at the back and maybe we have needed that.
“That clean sheet against Blackpool was a massive lift for the lads at the back and then against Birmingham they didn’t really have a lot to deal with until Nikola Zigic came on.
“Zat Knight came on and was absolutely brilliant – he led the line superbly.”
Skipper Knight received a ringing endorsement from manager Dougie Freedman last week despite dropping out of the first team plans.
And Baptiste says his team-mate continues to set an example – not least with his second-half appearance off the bench at St Andrew’s last weekend.
“He’s great for the team,” he said.
“The first game when he wasn’t playing he went round the whole dressing room before the game and had a word.
“He speaks to people individually, he’s the first person there in training and he’s a good role model for anyone as captain.
“He puts his work in and you only have to see the difference he made when he came on against Birmingham to show what it means to him.”