PHIL Parkinson faces a similar challenge in his 101st game in charge of Bolton Wanderers as he did in his very first.

Back in August 2016, fresh from Bradford City, Parkinson had to try and instil a sense of belief in a team which had been relegated to League One under a cloud of financial problems.

Fast forward to this weekend, and a dip in form coupled with some difficult off-the-field situations leave him with another motivational job on his hands.

Wanderers have flirted with administration, seen their long-time owner Eddie Davies pass away and had the heart-breaking news that full-back Stephen Darby has been diagnosed with a terrible illness.

Confidence has taken its traditional dip during September - a month in which Bolton have not won a game at any level in 18 attempts. But Parkinson wants his players to show they have evolved from last season’s great escape and that they can take the game to their struggling hosts when they travel to Portman Road tomorrow.

“I do think that we need to believe in ourselves on the ball in that midfield area at times,” he told The Bolton News. “We need to make the pitch a bit bigger when we have possession because when we do that we are a threat.

“Everyone was talking about Middlesbrough’s players in the build-up to that game – but we have god players as well. We need to go to Ipswich and show we are a good side.”

Parkinson passed a career 600 league games on Saturday against QPR and a century of league games in charge of Bolton at Boro on Tuesday night.

His win percentage (39) nestles between Ian Greaves and Bill Ridding and he needs just 14 more games to overtake John McGovern in the top 10 longest-serving managers in the club’s history. There have been plenty of trials and tribulations - but Parkinson says he has enjoyed the ride.

“It’s been a bit of a blur, a rollercoaster,” he said. “Everyone who has been on the journey with us can back that up.

“There have been ups, downs, turmoil all over the place but it has been enjoyable.

“We’ve just got to stick together now. You have to accept you’ll lose games in the Championship from time to time but we’ve got a great opportunity to put things right at Ipswich at the weekend.

“When me and the staff first came into the club we knew it was a big challenge. There were aspects we thought could improve. But to be stood here as a Championship club is an achievement.”