MARK Beevers admits Wanderers have been selling themselves short on set pieces this season.

The 6ft 5ins centre-back grabbed his first goal of the season in defeat against Preston North End at the weekend – pouncing to prod home Dorian Dervite’s blocked header.

It was a goal reminiscent of his finish to win the game at Southend United last season en route to promotion, but Beevers admits such penalty box menace has not been common enough since the club’s return to the Championship.

Phil Parkinson’s side is looking to stay safe from relegation by any means necessary, even though their direct approach does not always please the purists.

There is the potential for a culture clash at Reading tonight, yet victory for the Whites would lift them above their hosts in the table. And Beevers believes the big men have a role to play.

“Steve Parkin is massive on set pieces and he pulled the defenders to one side recently, gave us a little nudge, and I think we have responded,” he told The Bolton News.

“We have got to attack the ball with belief. The lads have taken it in and I think we can push on and get better at that side of things.

“We are definitely a threat from set pieces and I think anyone who comes up against Bolton Wanderers are wary of our size, because we are a big team.

“I think throughout this season we haven’t capitalised on it, to be honest. We should be getting more goals, simply because we’ve got giants in our team.”

Reading, beaten finalists in last season’s play-offs, are one of a few big names currently embroiled in the relegation fight.

Jaap Stam’s side has struggled to make their possession-based game quite as profitable this time around, and the Dutchman’s job is now under some considerable pressure.

Wanderers face another one of the play-off semi-finalists, Sheffield Wednesday, on Saturday and Beevers – himself a former Owl – believes the two clubs’ struggles is evidence of how unpredictable the Championship has become.

“There will be some surprising teams down there – there is now, in fact,” he said. “And I think there are a couple of surprising ones at the top too. The Championship is just so hard to get your head round sometimes. Literally anyone can beat anyone.

“You never know what is going to happen in this league. We could go on a four or five-game winning streak and all of a sudden we’re mid-table. But on the flip side it can go in the opposite direction, so you have to be mentally strong.”

Wanderers have 11 games to book their place in the Championship next season and Beevers is praying their wait does not go right down to the wire.

“I hope not,” he said. “I’d like it to be done and dusted with a few games to go.

“We thoroughly believe we can pull away from the relegation zone.

“It’s just about believing in every game that you can take away points.”

Phil Parkinson felt his opponents would struggle to replicate their form of last season.

“Last year they probably over-achieved getting to the play-off final, penalty kicks away from the Premier League,” he said.

“There is always a fall-out from losing that game. I experienced it myself as a player.

“Expectations go that little bit higher whereas last season it was looked as a bonus doing what they did.

“Also, I think the way they played, teams have had a year to look at them and can now set themselves up differently.”

Wanderers will have to cope without Sammy Ameobi, who has hurt his back after getting a knock against Preston but they do welcome Mark Little and Karl Henry back from suspension.

Parkinson said he would be making changes from the side beaten on Saturday, one of which looks like reinstating Henry to his midfield.

“Karl has been a big miss, and that’s no disrespect to the others who played in there,” he said in his pre-match press conference.

“He’s an intelligent footballer and we’re looking to him to give us that edge in the middle of the pitch.”

Jan Kirchhoff is also pressing for a first start for his new club.

“He’s on the bus and ready to start,” Parkinson added.