Alex Baptiste is on borrowed time in left-back position
SHORT of placing a wanted ad in the pages of The Bolton News, Dougie Freedman could hardly have made his desire to sign a left-back more obvious in the build-up to today’s clash with Charlton Athletic.
Since Marc Tierney broke his leg back in September, Alex Baptiste has more often than not landed the job on the left side of defence, this despite clearly being right-footed.
It was a plan that worked for a while but recently Wigan Athletic, and more specifically Callum McManaman, highlighted Baptiste’s deficiencies in the position, running him ragged at times in the first half of last weekend’s clash at the DW Stadium.
If there was any doubt in Chris Powell’s mind where the weakness lay in Wanderers’ defence, there probably isn’t now as his side prepare to do battle at the Reebok.
Even the club’s website trumpeted the manager’s need for a new full-back in the transfer window, and it does not get more official than that.
Freedman does have sympathy for his summer signing who was clearly not recruited for such purpose.
“It has been difficult for Alex because he came to the club as a centre-half/right-back and has had to play out of position,” he told The Bolton News.
“When Marc broke his leg it summed up what kind of luck we’ve had with injuries but what do you do? Keep throwing money at it, or use the squad you have got?
“Alex has played well in the majority of games but there have been a couple of opponents who have exposed his right-footedness. “ Freedman has at least four games to go before he can do anything about his problem position.
And his first job must be to ensure Baptiste does not allow the slaughtering he got at Wigan, nor the subsequent public call for a replacement, affect him too much.
Recruiting players, as Wanderers fans will no doubt attest, is not a speedy process these days, and with the Reebok manager openly admitting he will have to balance the books next month, Baptiste’s difficult spell could be extended into the New Year.
Earlier in the week, Freedman hinted that the club’s league position at the end of the festive run could have a bearing on the amount of cash he is able to spend in January.
But anyone expecting a spending spree is likely to end up disappointed.
The manager is unlikely to deviate from his relatively cautious approach in the transfer market and will still be hunting around for bargains, rather than a ready-made replacement for Tierney or Baptiste.
“You have got to make sure you are in a position to do it if the right player comes up but just going for it willy-nilly in January is not the right way to go,” he said.
“I do feel proud of my signings, whether it be the right deal at the right price or at the right age.
“I do believe we have got value for money.
“So, if another value for money player comes along I do feel we are capable of doing something.
“The board have got faith in me to spot a talent.
“We have a good squad. Yes, we need to look at a left-back because it is glaringly obvious we need to balance it up.
“So if a player comes along that I think is good enough to get in the team then I will go to the board and I believe the board will back that.”