Zat Knight praised by Dougie Freedman for showing good example to being dropped by Bolton Wanderers
DOUGIE Freedman insists skipper Zat Knight still has his full backing even though he is no longer an automatic choice.
Despite dropping the defender to the bench for the last five games, the Wanderers boss has assured Knight that he still features heavily in his plans.
The 32-year-old impressed in substitute outings against Yeovil and Birmingham and has delighted Freedman with his attitude after finding himself out of the first-team picture.
“Zat has been dropped purely and simply because of his lack of form,” explained Freedman. “I have said that to everyone in the dressing room, so I don’t mind saying it to everyone else.
“Zat Knight has not whinged, not complained, has been in every day in training and been round every one of those players to wish them well. More importantly, when he has been called upon, he has come on to do a very good job.
“As a professional and as a coach, you want these people round you.”
Knight came under fire from the Wanderers fans after a poor start to the season and was dropped after the 1-0 home defeat to Leeds United.
He was even booed by some supporters after coming on in the second half against Yeovil – but Freedman reckons the experienced defender will not let the abuse affect him.
“He is honest and he has accepted the criticism,” the manager said. “You have to be a certain type of person to do that. All top players have to have a thick skin. They have to have layers.
“Zat has had his moments where he has not played very well but you have got to take criticism as a top player, from the fans and from the coaches, but more importantly you have got to do something about it and that’s what I am seeing from Zat right now.”
After making some big calls in his team selection recently, Freedman is now expecting a few more players to follow Knight’s lead and press for a recall against Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday week.
“It has been a difficult two or three months for me as a coach,” he said.
“I have had to look at myself long and hard, but this hasn’t been a time where I have needed to manage anyone. I’ve needed people to lead by example.
“I demand certain standards from my players on the training ground and Zat Knight is one of those who is right behind me.”