KEITH Hill has praised the “water carriers” in his improving Wanderers squad.

Bolton go to Portsmouth this weekend looking to stretch an unbeaten run to three games – something they have not managed in more than 12 months.

But while the attacking players have often caught the eye and grabbed the headlines since he took charge, the Whites boss singled out his engine room for special praise after the weekend’s draw against Sunderland.

Jason Lowe – who was not in Hill’s first starting line-up at Rotherham – was offered special praise for his attitude on and off the pitch in the last few weeks, culminating in a man-of-the-match performance against the Black Cats.

Although Lowe struggled at times in his first season at Bolton, which ended in relegation amid a flurry of financial issues, Hill hopes his recent displays are a sign of things to come.

“I haven’t managed him for the last two or three years – but I do know since I have been here he’s been absolutely magnificent,” he said.

“On the training pitch, as a leader, what he did on the corporate side of operations the other day is just superb and his football performances have been good.

“He knows how to play the game we want to play. He is well-versed in it.

“It’s players like Jason Lowe who need the thanks because they are making our job easier on recruiting the young players who want to try and do it our way.”

Hill hopes the work-rate of Lowe and captain Liam Bridcutt spreads right throughout the team – including his attacking ranks.

On-loan winger Thibauld Verlinden has been getting rave reviews since joining the club from Stoke City but the Bolton boss is demanding that his work-rate remains high.

“He has to do the function for the team, though,” he said. “Every player has to carry the water.

“Thibaud, Dennis Politic, Will Buckley, we all have to carry the water – myself included.

“There are no prima donnas. We expect our wide players, the match-winners, to do the hard work with us.

“My intention when we came in was to rotate him, Dennis and Will over the three games where we had two available, then three, and hopefully over the period of time we’ll get the others back too.

“He is showing a great willingness. He is going to be a special player and we were very fortunate to get him but they wanted to come to Bolton and represent our beliefs in the way the game is played. They didn’t look at the league table and that indicates to me that they want to win.”