PHIL Parkinson paid tribute to skipper Jay Spearing for guiding Wanderers back on to the winning path against Millwall.

Back in the starting line-up for the first time in four games, the fit-again midfielder made a successful return as goals from Josh Vela and Tom Thorpe earned three points at the Macron.

Parkinson’s side had been rocked with the news keeper Mark Howard was out for three months with a broken thumb and then dealt a further blow on Friday when David Wheater sustained a back injury in training which could keep him out of action for a number of weeks.

But Spearing’s comeback helped steady a ship which had been rocking after defeat at Peterborough United the previous weekend, drawing praise from a delighted Whites boss.

“Spearo was immense,” he told The Bolton News. “Just that calmness on the ball as well as his heart, which is unquestioned.

“Having him out there is a big plus. Since I came in to the club I’ve said that a lot of managers are crying out for leadership but I have got a few players of that type and Jay is definitely one of them. Good captains get more out of the players around them.”

Wanderers had attracted their fair share of flak for the televised defeat against Peterborough last Sunday but Parkinson was pleased with the response he got from his players, urging them to maintain focus heading into tomorrow’s home clash with Coventry City.

“We’re on a winning run – it’s six out of seven in the league – and we have to continue it,” he said. “This has to spur us on.

“I don’t know how much criticism we got because I don’t read too much – I need to focus on what I have to do. But when you get beat, everyone is looking for reasons.

“As a staff we sat down and rectified the things we felt needed to be sorted out, had them in for a team meeting, and they gave their response. The intensity in our display was back and I was pleased to see it.

“Along the way in any team, in any division, there will be setbacks. It’s important for the supporters and me to make sure we don’t get too down after a defeat but to make sure we’ve got answers.

“If you lose a game, at least know why you lost it.”