DOUGIE Freedman insists his Wanderers side are in it to win it in tonight’s FA Cup third round replay at Sunderland.
Rather than rue an added game on an already hectic fixture list, the Bolton boss is targeting a cup upset at the Stadium of Light to add another game to the calendar in 11 days’ time against Everton in round four.
And after being encouraged by his team’s showing in the first tie at the Reebok, when they took a two-goal lead only to be pegged back by the Premier League side, he says the belief is there the Whites can triumph in the north east.
The Scot reached the last four as a player and would love to have a run as a manager.
He said: “It ranks high up for me because it is the FA Cup.
“I got to the semi-final as a player and it is a competition I want to do well in as a coach.
“We are up against Premier League opposition and it is going to be tough for us.
“But I think we can hold our own and go one better than the draw last time.
“We can take heart from the way we played in the first game.
“We went 2-0 up and I felt we deserved it.
“For the 60 or 70 minutes we were leading, we were worth it.
“I think we know in the back of our minds that if we play to our potential then it is a winnable game for us.”
As well as the prospect of cup success and the knock-on effect that could have on league fortunes, Freedman also says the cup games give him a chance to shuffle his pack and give players who need games a run out in a competitive environment.
That includes those coming back from injury like Stuart Holden and the boss is happy to have the options widening as players like the US midfielder and youngster Josh Vela near a full comeback.
Freedman added: “Having an extra game is a good thing for where we are at right now.
“I have got a few players coming back from injury and a couple who need some game time.
“It is okay playing in the under-21s but they really need to be tested so the more games the better right at this particular point.
“Our squad is just about holding up after the hectic Christmas period but it gives me an opportunity to get one or two who have been out for a long time back in the cup.
“If we can possibly win this game, it would give us another in the cup and that is what we need right now.”
With players coming back and new signing Craig Davies added to the mix, although not for tonight’s game, Freedman remains upbeat about the second half of the season and beyond.
He wants to build for the future with youth as well as prudent signings this month and sees the cup fixture as a chance to possibly look at the younger members of his squad.
He added: “We are not in the position of being in the Premier League with the Anelkas right now and having to change the way we do things.
“The club has the foundations for success and the recipe for what is needed.
“It won’t happen overnight but I will continue to work hard.
“We have one or two younger players coming through and the future looks a lot better than the past.”