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Bolton planning January deals to help struggling squad

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse
Reinforcements are on the horizon for Wanderers – but Keith Hill admits his battle-weary players may have to grind out results for the rest of the festive period.

After another dent was put in his slender squad in the 13 days since the Accrington defeat, Hill admits the physical strain of getting players up to top shape is now starting to show.

The notoriously challenging Christmas schedule will soon be upon Bolton, and with a handful of games still to be rescheduled the workload will also be high in the New Year.

With that in mind, Hill is counting down the days before he can bring in new signings in the January window and give some players respite.

“I relish playing the games at this time of year, they come thick and fast,” he said. “There’s a flip side to my thinking, though, because we really do need more players.

“I want to support the group we have got by giving a little bit of freshness back, a bit of newness, because they need help.

“Unfortunately at this moment in time it’s a case of self-help. They are going to have to try and get through this run together until we can get to January and actually do something about it.”

Hill says “one or two” academy players could be pushed up the pecking order in the coming weeks but that his chief focus is on bringing in loan signings next month.

The stays of Thibaud Verlinden, Jake Wright and Liam Bridcutt could be renewed – although Verlinden’s future could depend greatly on whether new Stoke City boss Michael O’Neill has plans for him in the Potteries.

The club’s transfer embargo, which is non-negotiable, make the task of adding to the squad tougher – but not impossible, admits the Bolton boss, who is still looking around for options.

“It’s still an open market,” he said. “It’s a difficult window at the best of times but we are looking at players from other clubs, potentially on loan, and we’re mindful of the fact we can only have five at a time.

“We have to be creative in our recruitment and our retained list. We are only allowed a certain amount of players, we’re still not allowed to spend money on transfers or loan fees.

“We want new signings. But there’s a lot of work to do in the next few weeks because we have got to plan.”

The focus this weekend will be on the visit of AFC Wimbledon, a side sitting four places and 15 points above Bolton at start of play.

Such was the severity of their defeat at Accrington last time out, the result was still on everyone’s minds as Hill took his regular pre-match press conference at Lostock yesterday morning.

But while the Wanderers boss is keen to put the whole affair behind him – at least until Wanderers go back to the Wham Stadium next Tuesday in the Trophy, he admits there was one valuable lesson learned in the 7-1 thrashing.

“We became a victim of the sending-off, the penalty, and without being too disrespectful, a bad refereeing performance,” he said. “We shouldn’t be victims, we should be stronger.

“We should be protecting the outcome and there are valuable lessons to be learned from that, so we’ll take that into Wimbledon.

“You can’t allow decisions, however wrong they feel, to dictate what happens on the pitch.

“There was two-thirds of the game to play and the score was still one apiece, so we shouldn’t have let those circumstances affect us and lead to a scoreline like that.

“We let it become a game-changing decision.”


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