WANDERERS look set to ask young pair Yoan Zouma and Adam Senior to shoulder the defensive burden at Bristol Rovers tonight, with Keith Hill encouraged by the progress they are making in the first team spotlight.

Injuries to Jack Hobbs, Harry Brockbank and Jake Wright left Zouma and Senior as the only fully fit centre-halves at the weekend, although Josh Earl is now pushing for a recall after featuring on the bench against Rochdale.

Hill accepts there will be a downside to his two young charges learning on the job, as witnessed in the latter stages of Saturday’s defeat. He hopes, however, that the progress both players have made since his arrival as manager in August will continue at the Memorial Ground tonight.

“There’s a reward in playing Adam Senior because he has been tremendous on the training ground. His attitude is absolutely frightening,” he told The Bolton News.

“I know he is going to make mistakes but I think he’ll learn from them. We’re not talking big things, just small adjustments.

“He is a good defender, very brave, but he has to be able to make better decisions. The more experience he gets, the easier that will be. If he doesn’t learn, he won’t become the player I think he could be.

“Zouma is similar. I think he needs leading with someone like Jack Hobbs or Liam Bridcutt.

“He needs to concentrate a bit more rather than rely on his speed. And what I don’t want to see is what happened in the last 20 minutes of the game where Yoan lost his discipline, Albi (Aaron Wilbraham) gets under his skin and he starts doing things he probably shouldn’t do. He is being led by the experience and old tricks that Albi has got. He should have stayed in control to protect the centre of the pitch.

“That area is very important to me. The way I want to play with the full-backs attacking, the triangle of three is vital.”

Losing experienced heads like Bridcutt, Hobbs and Wright has left Hill’s “triangle” weaker than usual, just at the stage he felt progress was being made.

“From a management perspective it has been a difficult few weeks. We have lost key components of the spine of our team,” he explained.

“We found ourselves in a good place leading up to the Blackpool game. Relationships were being built on the pitch, defensively we were looking strong, we had men in key areas and they were leading and protecting the younger ones.

“Unfortunately, the situation we’re in, we’re losing them again. I thought the lads were magnificent on Saturday with their effort, desire, courage, to try and play the right way and win a game.

“If I look at the triangle I want to support everything we do – Jake Wright, Jack Hobbs and Liam Bridcutt – not one of them are available.

“We are taking big strides forward but then end up getting pulled back. And it’s not a criticism of anyone, just a reflection of where we are at this moment in time.

“It’s frustrating but I think if I can get the team out on a regular basis that I want to, then we are in better shape. I can see a real vision but it’s difficult.

“What we’re experiencing at the moment is something nobody else has ever done. The EFL haven’t allowed clubs to start seasons in administration – it’s a first. And I was looking back at Portsmouth or Luton and they were able to go into a new season by recruiting and starting again.”