FIT-AGAIN David Wheater hopes he has done enough to warrant a starting place for Wanderers against Nottingham Forest this weekend.
The centre-back, one of few players to emerge from the narrow 3-2 win over League Two Bury in the Capital One Cup with much credit, has now fully recovered from a calf tear that kept him out for most of the summer.
After helping the Whites avoid a banana skin in midweek, Wheater now has his sights fixed on staying in the side and helping the team recover from their demoralising defeat at Watford on the opening day of the season.
“I got a little tear in my calf over the summer but I’m ready to go now,” he told The Bolton News. “I’d only played one Under-21 game before Watford, so that was understandable, but obviously now I want to play.
“We need a spark. Hopefully after beating Bury we’ll get a little bit of confidence and get on a roll.
“Personally, I think me and Dorian (Dervite) did okay on Tuesday night, so now it’s down to the manager to see if we play Saturday.”
Matt Mills and Tim Ream started the Watford game at centre-back but as Dean Moxey is still a doubt for weekend with a bruised foot, Ream could again be asked to play at full-back, leaving a space in the middle for Wheater or Dervite.
“On one hand I wish there wasn’t so much competition,” said Wheater. “But it’s good for the squad and it means if you’re not playing well, you’re not in the side.”
Emotions were still raw yesterday after the local derby, with Shakers boss David Flitcroft still fuming over the decision to add six minutes of injury time to the regular 90, in which Wanderers won a hotly-disputed penalty converted by Craig Davies.
Referee Jeremy Simpson ruled that Davies had been felled by ex-Bolton youth product Rob Lainton in the 96th minute – a decision that Wheater admitted after the final whistle felt like a lucky break.
“I said to Craig that I didn’t think it was a penalty,” he said. “I felt for him. I was right next to the incident and flicked the ball on – and as I said to Craig, I don’t think he touched him. We’d have been gutted if it happened to us, but we got the decision.
“Laints is still one of my best mates, even though he made a top save from me. I was shouting at him after that. He’s a top quality keeper.”
Forest visit on Saturday having coasted past Blackpool last weekend and Tranmere in the cup on Tuesday night.
Wheater is looking to get the better of his former England coach Stuart Pearce, a man he says is far removed from the fist-pumping hard-man image he portrayed as a player.
“I had him in the England Under-21s and 19s and he’s a top manager,” he said.
“It’s weird because I thought he’d be proper angry but he was fairly reserved. I don’t know what he’d be like in club football, maybe at the FA you need to calm it down.
“You wanted to do the best for him because he’s an English hero. When he talks you think ‘on my God, I hope he doesn’t switch here and go mad,’ he’s got that kind of aura about him.
“He’s good to play under and he’ll definitely get Forest going. It’ll be a tough game.”