SEVEN months and a different world ago, Gary Madine’s viral video insult to Sheffield United striker Billy Sharp felt like the end of the world.

He was dropped from a February defeat at Bramall Lane under inauspicious circumstances, fuelling various conspiracy theories around social media that his Wanderers career was through.

Not for the first time in his career, the headlines portrayed the striker in a negative light. And yet since that afternoon, he has not looked back.

Madine finished the season in swashbuckling form, playing through the pain of a serious shoulder injury and earning a new deal at the Macron. Since the club returned to the Championship his quality performances have been one of the few highlights.

A player re-born in the eyes of the Bolton fans, the 27-year-old can still get better, according to his manager Phil Parkinson.

“He’s getting that belief he can play at this level – because he certainly can,” he told The Bolton News. “I always say to him he’s made big improvements in training but he’s got more to come, more to give. He understands it and he’s trying to get better.

“Even though he’s part of a team that hasn’t been doing very well, he is looking confident. That’s good.

“His hold-up play at the moment is excellent.”

Madine joked at the end of last season he had very little recollection of the comment he made about Blades striker Sharp – and Parkinson laughed off the incident as water under the bridge at his press conference yesterday.

But the Bolton boss is keen to enforce upon his target man that the progress he has made in the last 14 months under his tutelage must be maintained.

“I’ve always got on very well with him,” he said. “He’s an honest lad and he wants to do well.

“There have been a few obstacles to overcome since he’s been here but he’s earned the respect of his team-mates and the fans – and he needs to keep doing it because it can quickly go the other way.”

While Madine is enjoying the adulation of the public right now, the same cannot be said of Wanderers skipper Darren Pratley.

Not for the first time he has found his recent performances come in for criticism from home fans, and the situation has not escaped the manager’s attention.

“Daz is an experienced player and a tough character,” he said. “He has got to come through it.

“The crowd are on his back, you can sense that, but he’s strong enough to come through it.

“With the numbers situation we have, every single player has got to play their part.”

Parkinson came out in unequivocal support for goalkeeper Ben Alnwick after his late error cost a third goal in the weekend’s defeat to Middlesbrough.

While acknowledging it had been a difficult decision to replace Mark Howard, who had been number one for the first five league games, he is wary of over-reacting to the one error.

“I’m sticking with him,” he said. “Ben knows he should have made the save but up to that point he’d had a good game. He’s trained well and he’s a good keeper.”

Wanderers are likely to be without experienced full-back Andy Taylor once again, leaving on-loan Everton full-back Antonee Robinson to make a second league outing for the club.

The 20-year-old may hope for a quieter afternoon than he experienced against Boro, when former Barcelona youth star Adama Traore had the kind of game he may one day recall to his grandchildren. But Parkinson was encouraged by the reaction of fans to the young full-back, whose attitude on the day drew praise from the terraces.

“Antonee has got a very strong character and he never went under,” he said.

“When you are on the touchline you can sense the crowd and even though he’d had a tough day you could see the crowd appreciated that he’d stuck at it.

“Everyone loves a trier and any full-back at this level would have struggled. We have got young players finding their feet.”