DOUGIE Freedman has challenged Craig Davies to “unleash the beast” and step up a level with Wanderers this season.
As fans prepare to search for a new goal-scoring hero following the news top summer target Lukas Jutkiewicz is closing in on a move to Burnley, a gap may have opened up for the fearless Wales international to make his case.
Two powerful pre-season performances, including a goal from the penalty spot in the opening game against Brondby, suggest he is up to the challenge.
And yet just last month it seemed Davies could be on his way out at Bolton. Farmed out on loan to League One Preston North End for the second half of last season, two of his former clubs, Port Vale and Chesterfield, were reportedly looking to sign him again this summer.
But Freedman’s lack of options up front could now see him turn to the 28-year-old for help, and the Wanderers boss has hinted there could be a window of opportunity to show he can really cut it at Championship level.
“When I bought Craig I knew there was something in him – power, strength, something different from what we already had,” Freedman told The Bolton News.
“He picked up a few injuries last season and couldn’t really get going so we sent him along to Preston to get some games.
“But I think he’s come back and is realising if he performs how I know he can and show that kind of intensity, then he’s always going to have a chance.
“The consistency still needs to be there in his training but that is something for him to aim at.”
Although hopes that Wanderers could match Burnley’s bid for Jutkiewicz were all but extinguished last night, Freedman is not about to give up his search for a better mix of attacking options.
Although he would be disappointed if he missed out on his first choice, the Scot is ready to cast his net again to find another bargain buy.
“I’m no different to any manager, we all want strikers,” he said.
“Gone are the days when you can go with two – like Jermaine (Beckford) and Craig and then worry about it if something happens to them. You need three even four strikers in the Championship, and have a different blend of players.
“Jermaine is sharp, quick, Craig is more of a handful all-round, so maybe we could do with someone who has got other qualities we could use.”
The majority of Freedman’s work over the last couple of seasons has been geared towards improving the back four and midfield – but the Scot admits his attacking ranks are now the area on which he must focus.
“It’s never changed. If you look at the teams that have gone up for the last 100 years it’s the sides with goals in them,” he said.
“I’ve had to work back to front here so far – I needed to make sure we were not conceding too many goals and that we looked organised, and unfortunately we’re in a financial position where we have got to work very hard in the market to find the right signings.
“I think we did that with the loans last season and with frees like Jermaine and we’ll have to do it again.”