MARCOS Alonso has sworn to Wanderers fans that he will become a completely different player if he can nail down a place in the first team.
Heading for St Andrew’s in the rare luxury of being in pole position for the left-back slot, the young Spanish defender is desperate to take his Reebok career to the next level.
Alonso got the nod over Sam Ricketts for the first time this season in the weekend’s victory over Watford, but despite coming through the physical encounter with a few bumps and bruises, he feels ready for an extended run.
“I got a few kicks and needed to put ice everywhere but I’m sure I’ll be ready for Tuesday,” Alonso told The Bolton News .
“I really need a lot of games to keep up my confidence and my fitness. I think if I can do that, you’ll see a very different Marcos Alonso and I’m sure people will enjoy that.”
Alonso was one of the bright spots of an otherwise average pre-season but when Owen Coyle opted for experience by naming Ricketts on the left side of his defence for the season opener at Turf Moor, the 21-year-old admits it hit him hard.
“After doing a really good pre-season, and then seeing that I wasn’t in the team against Burnley, it was difficult,” he said. “It was tough to keep going.
“It hasn’t been easy to keep my confidence up when I have been out of the team because when you want to improve as a footballer, you have to play.
"But you have only one choice and that’s to keep working hard and train and hope you get into the team. That’s what I have been trying to do.
“I always have my family and my friends there trying to cheer me up.
“I have a lot of people visiting me from Spain, so off the pitch the support I get from everyone has been very good.
“Lots of people ask me ‘why am I not playing, why am I not playing?’ And I just tell them ‘I will’.
“It’s been a long time since my last official league game but I was pleased with how it went for me even though it was difficult to strike the balance between attacking and defending. We didn’t let them too close to our goal and I think we will improve on this over the season.”
Alonso’s career in England has been littered with bad luck and, in some cases, tragedy.
On the pitch, first team chances have often been checked by injury, including a broken foot last season that twice put him out of action.
But off it too, the former Real Madrid youth product has had his crosses to bear.
A young woman suffered fatal injuries when travelling in a car, driven by the defender, which crashed into a barrier near to the Bernabeu in May 2011.
The ongoing legal issue has undoubtedly been a distraction, and one the youngster is reticent to discuss.
But the death of his grandfather, five-time European Cup winning Real legend Marquitos, has also hit him hard in the last 12 months.
“Everything has happened to me in the last two years – bad luck, injuries – but I keep going every time and I feel this is my chance now,” said Alonso.
“After seeing how I played in the summer and how I played in some of the games last year, like Blackburn, I know I can do good.
“There is never going to be a lack of confidence from me.”
Alonso has happy memories of Birmingham, even though his only game there ended in defeat.
He sat on the bench to see Wanderers beat Alex McLeish’s Blues in the FA Cup quarter-final in March last year and believes that after putting some points on the board against Watford on Saturday, that the momentum should continue again.
“It will be a really good game for us against another team who have come back to the Championship after some years in the Premier League,” he said.
“We’ve played there a couple of times and it’s a pitch that has been good for us.
“Any game has pressure now and we have to be motivated to get three points. But I think we can beat any team in this league.
“Here, there is less quality outside the Premier League, just like La Liga, but it is still 11 versus 11. You have to work harder against some teams and have more personality.”