Mills can be Whites star, says former coach

MATT Mills can be a success at Wanderers, provided he gets the respect he struggled to find at Leicester City.

That’s the view of former England assistant manager Derek Fazackerley, who knows the defender well having nurtured his talent at Manchester City and helped sign him for Leicester last season.

Mills is poised to try to kickstart his career at the Reebok on a season-long loan, with a view to a £2million move next summer. And though the 25-year-old has been in limbo at the King Power Stadium since falling out with manager Nigel Pearson in February, Fazackerley feels he can still be a potent force given the right encouragement.

“You have got to feel like you are being respected and appreciated,” said Sven-Goran Eriksson’s former right hand man, who left Leicester last October. “If you feel the people in charge are not doing that then it can be very difficult.

“Everyone wants to be valued, or loved, but if it seems like the management haven’t got confidence in you then it can be very difficult to play your best football.

“It’s up to Matt now, if he gets the chance at Bolton. It will be a big season for him because his time at Leicester certainly didn’t work out the way he wanted it to.”

Fazackerley helped prize Mills from Reading last summer for around £4million after watching him help the Royals to Wembley, where they were beaten in the play-offs by Swansea City.

But the Blackburn Rovers legend admits his time at Leicester did not get off to a good start.

“I think his performances were quite fragmented,” said the 60-year-old coach, who worked in the Wanderers coaching set up under Colin Todd in 2000. “He suffered a little bit for confidence but by the time I left the club he was looking back to his best form.

“He was very unlucky to get sent off against Birmingham and not long after that he had a difference of opinion with the manager - and that’s hard to come back from.

“Nevertheless, he’s strong, experienced and he’s the kind of player you need around in this division.”

Fazackerley draws comparisons with the situation Kevin Davies found himself in at Blackburn several years ago.

As Roy Hodgson’s assistant, the Lancastrian watched the 21-year-old Davies struggle to live up to a £7.5million price tag at Ewood Park, only to find his spiritual home a few years later down the road in Bolton.

“Sometimes your face does need to fit with a club,” he said. “Kevin came in for a lot of money back then, but while you could see his potential, he felt a bit homesick and didn’t get on that well with some of the senior players.

“Years later you have seen him mature as a player and as a person and he’s become such a massive part of Bolton Wanderers.

“That has to be Matt’s aim. He was outstanding at Reading and showed signs he would be again at Leicester. I have found the Championship to be a very, very tough division but he is the type of player you need to get you out of it.”

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