STIG Tofting's agent is confident Wanderers will stand by his man following his conviction for assault and could even play him in a reserve team fixture tonight.

Karsten Aabrink says initial discussions with Reebok chiefs suggest the player will get a sympathetic hearing when he has face to face talks with Sam Allardyce today.

The 33-year-old midfielder was given a four-month jail term by a court in Copenhagen yesterday but under Danish law, which has tightened up on violent offences in recent months, he has 14 days to appeal against the severity of the sentence.

That means he could continue to play for Wanderers until his fate is finally known and Aabrink believes he will play for the second string against Leeds at Gigg Lane tonight.

But Wanderers are refusing to make any comment until they have consulted their own lawyers and are unlikely to make any official response until the player and his representatives decide on their next move.

Should he serve a jail term, Wanderers would have grounds to sack him, cancelling his contract, which has just short of two years to run.

All the indications are that Tofting will get a sympathetic hearing from his Reebok bosses, who were surprised to see the case go to trial. They were under the impression that the injured parties in the Cafe Ketchup incident had accepted the player's apologies and dropped the charges. In the event, if he accepts the four-month sentence, he is likely to serve 80 days.

Nevertheless, they will not be happy to see one of their players - a veteran of 41 international appearances for Denmark - behind bars for an offence involving violence.

In January, a month before Tofting arrived at the Reebok in a £250,000 transfer from SV Hamburg, Wanderers sacked the Senegal defender Djibril Diawara for several breaches of the club's disciplinary code - notably breaching pre-match curfews on drinking.

But Allardyce had reached the end of his tether with Diawara while Tofting, although having admitted his guilt in this case, is considerably more popular and has caused the manager no problems, other than being sidelined for long periods with a foot injury, which limited him to just seven first team starts but has now cleared up.

Tofting's future as a Bolton player is likely to hinge on the balance club bosses strike between what they feel they have to do and what they want to do.

They may feel they need to be seen to take the strong line, should he serve a prison sentence, but they may not wish to lose a player Allardyce saw fit to spend money on in February and who is a popular figure in the dressing room.

There are precedents of clubs standing by players who have served short jail terms in the past - Liverpool with Jan Molby in 1988, Arsenal with Tony Adams in 1990 and Rangers with Duncan Ferguson in 1995.

Tofting, who arrived back in Bolton last night with his wife Bettina and three children, says he wants "time to reflect" before deciding whether to lodge an appeal.

Aabrink, who believes his client suffered a harsh penalty because of his celebrity status in Denmark, told the Bolton Evening News: "We have spoken to Bolton and they say they are fully supportive of Stig.

"Stig spoke to Sam Allardyce yesterday and his biggest concern now is Bolton. He loves the place, he loves the club.

"He has admitted his guilt and he has taken it like a man. Now he has two weeks to think about things but things are moving positively."