DOUGIE Freedman believes he has discovered a way to get the best out of midfield maestro Mark Davies.
Although a toe injury has limited the mercurial Midlander’s ability to train in the last few weeks, the word from the camp is that he is now in the best shape of his Wanderers career.
Davies worked extensively with the club’s medical team at the end of last season to address some long-standing fitness problems. It is now hoped Freedman can build his side around the talented 26-year-old playmaker in the hope he can stay injury-free.
“I’ve always said, if Mark is fit, I’ll try and play a system that gives him the ball,” he told The Bolton News.
“While he’s been at this football club he’s perhaps drifted in and out of games and I think the problem is very simple. He hasn’t found his correct position.
“I’ve got a few ideas on that front. I want to get him on the ball and facing goal where he can do some damage.
“We know he’s a very intelligent player and right now I think he’s in good condition.”
Freedman was also boosted by the return of Chung-Yong Lee in Friday night’s 1-1 draw against Tranmere, and the South Korea international is due to step up his involvement against Port Vale tomorrow night.
Chung-Yong was played behind a lone striker at Prenton Park – and his manager has not ruled out using him in that position again in the Championship.
“It’s good to have him back,” he said. “By the time he came on against Tranmere we could only really play one up top – but he’s quite capable there. He’s a very clever player.
“He came on in the middle then we moved him over to the left. These games are designed to try that kind of thing and give people some minutes.
“He’s been away at the World Cup and he’s been married, so he’s a little behind the others in that respect.
“As much as anything, if I bring players on or take them off in these games, I want to see their attitude.”
Vice skipper Matt Mills was also happy to see Davies and Chung-Yong back in the side, with less than a fortnight remaining before the opening game of the season against Watford.
“Sparky has been unlucky getting a knock in pre-season. He worked really hard towards the end of last year and I think he had that fitness in the bank,” he said.
“He played against Tranmere having not done a lot of training and I don’t think he looked out of place.
“We know what quality Chungy brings to the squad, he’s a very diligent player and you can see he’s very clever with the way he goes about things on the pitch.
“Having both of them back out there is a big boost for us.”