Bolton Wanderers captain Zat wants lead role in push for the top flight
ZAT Knight believes a new deal at Wanderers could still be within his grasp – if the club can get their promotion chase on track.
Despite starting just two of the last 16 games, the club captain is confident he can still play a role in helping Dougie Freedman’s side mount a charge up the table in the second half of the season.
The big defender was restored to the side for Thursday’s 1-0 win at Barnsley and heads to Leicester City tomorrow looking to string back-to-back appearances together for the first time since the start of September.
With his contract due to expire in the summer, Knight has extra incentive to stay in Freedman’s first-team thoughts and though he turns 34 at the end of this season, he still feels capable of playing at the highest level with Wanderers.
“I want to get back into the Premier League like everyone else in this squad,” he said. “I’m in the last year of my contract, so maybe we can get up there and I can try and squeeze another one out of the chairman!
“I want to be a leader on and off the field. I want to show my experience.
“Touch wood, through my career I’ve managed to stay away from injury, so I believe I can go on longer than your average age 32-33.
“I still feel I have got five or six years left in me.”
Knight was made club captain after Kevin Davies’s departure in the summer but paid with his place in the side after Wanderers’ poor start to the campaign.
Freedman has praised the former Aston Villa man for his attitude while out of the reckoning and Knight has not considered looking to get football elsewhere on loan.
“Matt Mills and Tim Ream have been playing very well and sometimes you have to bide your time,” he said. “That’s what I have done.
“I’ve tried to train well and as I’ve said before if I was 20-21 then maybe I’d have gone a bit AWOL, but now I’m that bit more experienced and I’m club captain. It’s not just about myself, it’s about the team.
“I’m club captain for a reason, because I have that experience, and I don’t run away from competition.
“It would have been easy for me to say ‘let me go to a team that’s fighting relegation to get a few games’ but I’m not about that.”
Knight is now desperate for Wanderers to find some consistency before a daunting run of January games against high flyers Nottingham Forest, Reading, Burnley and QPR.
And after digging in to earn three points at Oakwell on Boxing Day, he feels the signs are good going to the King Power Stadium.
“Sometimes you can play all the fantastic football and you don’t get the results you want,” he said. “That is what it has been like recently.
“If it comes down to a fight between us and Leicester then we’ve proved we can do it at Barnsley.
“We know they are strong and the last time I saw them, against QPR last week, they set out a game-plan to play short and sharp, got the goal, and then sat behind the ball.
“I feel if we can go there and get something out of the game then it stands us in good stead for what’s in store in January.”