MATT Mills believes Lukas Jutkiewicz will get plenty more opportunities to be Wanderers’ hero as the season builds towards its final act.
While the striker’s penalty miss proved a decisive moment in Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Millwall, Mills has urged his team-mate to quickly shrug off the disappointment.
Jutkiewicz was visibly upset as he walked back down the tunnel after the final whistle – but did take his tally to two goals in three games with a deft first-half header.
“He can’t dwell on it,” Mills told The Bolton News. “He has come to the club and done fantastically well. It’s disappointing he didn’t score the penalty but he’s going to be so important for the rest of this season.
“One thing I will say is that he cares about the football club as much as anyone else. Credit to him for that because he’s only been here for a short amount of time but that is the kind of person he is.
“He’ll hurt for a bit but he’s got to get over it quickly because he’s got 15 games to go.”
Jutkiewicz apologised to his team-mates in the dressing room after the game but Mills feels the on-loan Middlesbrough front man has no reason to be sorry after another encouraging display.
“There was absolutely no need to,” he said. “He scored a fantastic first goal – two in three games that he’s played now. He’ll be a big player for us from here on in.
“He adds something different to the team. He’s a big lad but with his back to play he holds the ball up and brings people in.
“I’m disappointed for him not to have scored the penalty because that would have given him even more confidence but he’ll be fine.”
Dougie Freedman was equally supportive of the striker he signed at the end of last month from the Riverside.
“I’m a centre-forward myself and I know when we miss a chance we’re not happy but I thought his all-round play was superb,” he said.
“He’s great to play off and gives us a different dimension.
“To go and take the penalty requires courage. To go up, pick the ball up and say ‘I’m the man who’ll score this’ requires guts.
“I’ll never criticise a striker for going and missing a penalty. He scored a wonderful goal and played wonderfully well.”
Jutkiewicz is on loan until the end of the season at Wanderers but has two more years on his contract at Boro.
He has made an encouraging start to his stay with the Whites but for now, Freedman is resisting talk of a permanent move.
“I’m very proud of my loans but I don’t talk about them too much,” he said. “We’ll revisit it when he goes back to Middlesbrough.
“I looked at him for a long time and he’s been given a bit of responsibility and I think he’s acting on that now.”