Having had ample time to ponder an embarrassing 7-1 result at Accrington last time out, the Bolton boss is confident there will be no lasting damage when they take the field again on Saturday at the UniBol.
Wanderers resume their survival bid 15 points behind Tranmere Rovers with up to four games in hand on their rivals. But they also have the lingering spectre of the EFL’s disciplinary appeal and whether it will uphold a suspended five-point penalty for failing to fulfil fixtures or impose the punishment immediately.
Hill hopes the Accrington defeat was an eye-opener for his team – and reckons it could end up having a positive effect on team unity.
“Mentally, you are only going to get stronger by experiencing days like that, games like that, the aftermath of it all,” he told The Bolton News. “Or you can make yourself weaker by hiding, running away, not facing up to the challenge. But I have got an honest group of players who are doing everything.
“When you get exposed like we did at Accrington then you lean a lot about yourself, about the group, about the external factors around the club. And you just wonder to yourself whether there will be a siege mentality, whether you are all going to be in it together?
“It is no good all being in it together when you are winning football matches.
“I come from a very strong family and I live my life that way. When you are going through hard times you need support, you come together and close ranks.”
Josh Earl will be suspended on Saturday, leaving Yoan Zouma as the most likely replacement at centre-half.
Hill is willing to take flak for the previous result on the chin but feels his players have worked hard enough in recent weeks to deserve a clean slate.
“I won’t hide under the settee,” he said. “I learned a lot and it’s the first time I have gone to Accrington with that big club experience against an underdog.
“People think I criticise players but I’ll protect them with everything I have got. If anybody attacks my players then they have to go through me.”