BOLTON Wanderers will kick off the final phase of their pre-season programme in Spain tonight with more experience on the sidelines than on the pitch.

Already hit by a spate of injuries that prevented five first team players from making the trip, the Whites' casualty list has grown as the temperatures have soared in the sun-baked south-west corner of Andalusia.

Most are minor problems attributed to the dry, bone-hard surfaces but they have, nevertheless, hit the squad to the point where Sam Allardyce will be forced to field a number of junior players in tonight's opening game of the Colombino Tournament against the host club, Recreativo Huelva.

The latest worry is defender-cum-midfielder, Abdoulaye Faye, who has returned to Bolton after being forced to pull out of training with tendonitis.

Ivan Campo, Stelios and summer signings, AbdouIaye Meite and Quinton Fortune, are all doubtful with a variety of problems that are minor interruptions for the individuals but, collectively, are seriously hampering preparations.

Wanderers already know they will be without Ricardo Gardner (knee), Henrik Pedersen (Achilles), and Joey O'Brien (knee) for the start of the season but Nicky Hunt and Kevin Davies have responded to treatment on knee and ankle injuries, respectively, and could be in with a chance of facing Spurs a week on Saturday.

Allardyce, who stayed behind to continue his increasingly desperate search for more signings, was due to link up with the squad today with Jared Borgetti in tow.

The striker was lined up for a transfer to the Middle East at the weekend, after Wanderers accepted a bid from the Saudi Arabian club, Al-Ittihad. But the move has stalled and Allardyce is now planning to use him at some point on the Spanish tour.

Assistant manager, Sammy Lee, who has been in charge of the squad in Allardyce's absence, played down the injuries.

"We've tried to minimise the risk by reducing the amount of contact work, but you still get problems at this stage because of the hard grounds," he said, weighing up the selection options for tonight's match and Thursday's game, when Wanderers will meet either Seville or Sporting Lisbon.

"They are only slight problems but it means you won't be able to gauge anything from these games because we'll have a lot of youngsters involved, which is great for them because it gives them a chance against La Liga opposition.

"But the main thing is that we are ready for the 19th."

On the club's continuing search for more new recruits, Lee said: "The gaffer has been trying like mad, as is always the case with Sam at this stage of the season.

"He works his socks off, morning, noon and night to try to bring players in."