THE CAVALRY is coming – and it might be just in time to save the day for Wanderers!
Phil Parkinson is faced with selection issues ahead of his side’s game at Port Vale with skipper Darren Pratley nursing a hamstring injury and Gary Madine still rated unlikely with a shoulder problem.
But after a drab midweek draw against local rivals Bury the manager has dropped a strong hint he is ready to change his team around for one of the biggest games in the club’s recent history.
James Henry, Jem Karacan and Chris Long are poised to come into the line-up at Vale Park – one of the division’s widest playing surfaces – and a unique challenge.
“The key at Port Vale is making sure we have a team which has enough energy in their legs,” he told The Bolton News. “They have to be ready to go again on that big pitch.
“Those players like Karacan, Henry and Long – who are champing at the bit to play – might just get their chance.”
Fans are clamouring for Parkinson to change his system, which struggled to break down a stubborn Shakers side on Tuesday night.
Explaining his decision to stick with Josh Vela playing off Adam Le Fondre, the Whites boss admits Henry came close to forcing his way in from the start before making an enterprising cameo off the bench.
“Did it work? Well, we didn’t score,” he shrugged. “But I can only repeat what I have said before and that’s Josh Vela is a very clinical finisher. We have seen in training, we have seen it this season.
“He enjoys playing in that role but equally when we put James Henry in there he gave us a little bit more quality.
“In tighter games it’s important and James was certainly in my thinking for the Bury game. He was unfortunate not to start.
“I just felt to change the front line again after Saturday it meant that Alfie has played with four different players in four games – I don’t want it to smack of desperation. I wanted to give it another go.
“We can get back on to the training ground now and decide which is the best path to take for the weekend.”
Parkinson understands the frustration among supporters who have watched on in horror as a one-time 10-point lead on Fleetwood was eroded in recent weeks. But equally he refuses to panic and after getting his side back on to the training ground feels he can still make adjustments to see them over the line.
“You just want the games to come around, the days between the games are dragging on for all of us,” he said. “Everyone will analyse and
“The lads have been a bit down but I said to them that might be a good point for us. It’s another one closer to where we want to be. We would have taken this position at the start of the season, of course, the only disappointment is that we were in a stronger position.
“Our ratio of hitting the target has been good over the course of the season but in the last couple of games it has dipped a little bit.
“Maybe it is that little bit of composure that we need to bring back into our game?”