JERMAINE Beckford is eyeing a perfect 10 at Wanderers as they head into the final stretch.
The fit-again front man scored his ninth goal of the campaign in Saturday’s 1-0 victory over Barnsley and now has designs on double figures, starting with a trip to Charlton on Friday.
He is also urging Dougie Freedman’s Whites to keep up their impressive form over the final four games to seal a top-10 spot in the Championship – an achievement he feels can be an early boost for next season’s aim of a promotion push.
At last count, 720 Wanderers fans will be heading to The Valley for the penultimate away trip. Three successive wins have pushed the club to within four points of the top half, leaving Beckford optimistic of accomplishing his twin targets before the summer.
“Ten goals would be nice but for the team to keep winning and for us to climb a bit higher up the table is much more important to me,” he told The Bolton News.
“Everyone will be looking at our form over the last few weeks and wondering ‘what if’ but that’s not how football works. If it was, football would be boring.
“It’s unfortunate we didn’t start the run earlier but I do think we can build on it next season.
“I honestly don’t feel our performances have been bad. There has just been a little misfortune here and there. But recently things seem to be going our way at last and those performances are starting to mean wins.
“We’re building for the future. I want to continue this run into next season and then hopefully we start the good form a bit earlier.” Beckford has scored nine or more goals in every full season he has played in professional football since 2006.
His year got off to a great start with a winning goal against Blackpool in the FA Cup in January but then stalled after a hamstring injury laid him low for just over two months.
Beckford was pleased to see that loanees Lukas Jutkiewicz and Joe Mason take up the goalscorer’s mantle, and the 30-year-old hitman was keen to praise his team-mates’ role in Wanderers’ recent resurgence.
“I take my hat off to the guys because they’ve done really well,” he said. “It’ll be sad to see Joe go back to Cardiff, he’s been great. He’s a good kid with a very bright future ahead of him.
“My injury was frustrating because I’d come off a couple of games where I had scored a few goals and the team were doing really well.
“But it’s part and parcel of the game, every now and then you get injured, but it’s pleasing when players like Joe and Lukas Jutkiewicz can come in and play as well as they have.
“It really relieved the pressure on me, being injured. There wasn’t the same urgency and pressure to come back and start firing right away.”
Freedman made six changes to last weekend’s side and looks likely to explore his options once again in South London.
That could mean a shuffle up front – with Jutkiewicz potentially up against Beckford for a starting place.
“Even with all the changes the manager made on Saturday we went out, scored a goal, kept a clean sheet and won the game,” Beckford said of last weekend’s mass changes. “I think that’s positive feedback – it shows it can work.”