PHIL Parkinson is making a habit out of confounding his critics.

Last season the Wanderers boss defied the draconian transfer restrictions imposed by the EFL to claim promotion in his first season in charge.

And this season he has reversed a poor start to give a side with one of the Championship’s lowest budgets a real fighting chance of survival.

The sale of top scorer Gary Madine to Cardiff City last week prompted yet more doubts to be cast on Bolton’s ability to stay in this division. But a gutsy televised victory over Bristol City showcased to the whole nation why no-one at the Macron Stadium surrenders that easily.

Friday night’s win was made all the more impressive by the fact Parkinson and his staff had been able to work with the whole group of players for less than an hour the day before the game because of bad weather.

Lostock had been hit hard by the loss of a big character in Madine, with many questioning the wisdom of selling the talismanic striker at that stage of the campaign without finding a direct replacement.

Parkinson promised, however, that the sale would not define Wanderers’ campaign.

“We have got a good group, and the honesty runs right through them,” he told The Bolton News. “The training ground was quiet on Thursday, I have to say that.

“We pulled the lads together and had a chat, spoke to a few of the individuals, and they were disappointed (at Madine’s departure) because of the determination to stay in this division – a job which has been made harder. But let me tell you, we are going to fight tooth and nail to achieve it.”

Though Friday night’s win was more about fighting instinct than planned preparation, Parkinson hopes this week will give him a chance to sand some of the rougher edges.

Without the physical presence of Madine, a player who to this point had won more aerial challenges than any other striker in Europe’s top five leagues, there had to be a clear change of direction.

The early signs were good, but Parkinson is still targeting some improvement on what fans saw against Bristol City when Fulham are the visitors to the Macron this weekend.

“We have said to the lads that if we can keep our professionalism on the training pitch and commitment on a matchday we’ve got a great chance of achieving our ultimate goal,” he said.

“That result was a first step. I’m looking forward to getting in Monday and really integrating the new players into the squad.

“Without that platform to knock a ball into Gary’s chest – which is great to have – we have to work the ball into Zach and Sammy’s feet. I think we will get better at that. It won’t happen overnight.

“When we tried that against Bristol we looked dangerous but I think having some time on the training ground this week will help us sharpen up.”

Changing his blueprint mid-season is nothing new for Parkinson, who had to adapt to the loss of Zach Clough to Nottingham Forest 12 months ago in League One, coupled with the return of Sammy Ameobi to Newcastle United.

Ameobi – now a permanent Wanderer – played in a central role which could give a big hint as to the future direction of the team. And his superb winning goal had the Bolton boss feeling upbeat about his side’s future chances. We have adapted before. We lost Zach before and had to change,” he said.

“We have lost Gary and decided to give Sammy a free role. He’s such a talented player he gives the opposition something to think about.

“Coming into that game people were just talking about Bristol City’s players and what they were going to do – but now they are talking about Sammy. I’m pleased for him and pleased that the transfer window is closed because after that performance I’d have been up all night worrying we’d get bids for him.”