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Josh Earl on red cards, Preston future and Wanderers' survival chances

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse
Josh Earl says his sights are fixed firmly on helping Bolton avoid the drop – and not on his future prospects at Preston North End.

The Deepdale youngster has had a fragmented start in League One after picking up an ankle injury just 14 minutes into his debut, and then serving a suspension for a red card at Accrington soon after his return.

But now fit and firing again, the 21-year-old wants to show Wanderers fans what they have been missing out on.

“It has been very stop-start at Bolton,” he told The Bolton News. “I haven’t played anywhere near as many games as I wanted to. But I am back now and I want to try and find a spot in the side, keep fit, stop getting silly red cards and stuff like that, and play as much as I can.

“Preston have kept in contact and have been checking on me. I obviously haven’t been playing much, so there hasn’t been much to say. But as soon as I got back they called me, which is good.

“I just want to play as much and as well as I can for Bolton and try to keep the club up. That’s the plan.

“Preston is in the back of my mind a little bit at the moment. I’m focussed on Bolton, keeping my spot in the side and winning as many games as possible.”

Earl has not had much good fortune since making his bow at Wycombe on the opening day of the season and finding himself instantly side-lined after what turned out to be a needless challenge on Paul Smyth.

“That was a bit of a stinker,” he said. “The ref ended up giving offside after I’d made the tackle but I was already injured and I was out for three months – but what can you do about it? I could only try and recover, get back in the side and try to do my best again.”

Returning to the side initially at left-back but then as centre-half, Earl looks back on his red card at Accrington with mixed emotions.

Wanderers failed in their attempt to have the suspension lifted by the FA but the youngster looks upon it now as a learning experience.

“I should have done something different,” he said. “In my mind it was a soft red. But I should definitely have moved my feet quicker. And if I get caught in that situation again it won’t happen, I will learn from my mistakes.”

He returned to the Wham Stadium in midweek as one of the older heads in a youthful side which went out of the Trophy with a 2-0 defeat. The game was decidedly less eventful than the last, which came as some relief to Earl.

“I wouldn’t exactly say I owed Accrington one – but I did feel I needed to get out there and show I could play and not get sent off,” he said.

“I didn’t prepare any differently, or think any differently in the build-up, but the way we started in the first half was just flat. I think we’re better than that.

“There’s no excuses, we should have been better. Second half improved but it wasn’t enough to get the result.

“Every time you come out for a game of football you want to win, no matter what. We wanted to get through to the next round of that competition, so of course there’s some disappointment, but we have to make sure we get focussed on the league right away now, try to rectify it.”

The next step in League One for Wanderers is a steep one. Peterborough United boast one of the division’s most in-form strike forces in Mo Eisa and Ivan Toney and an expensively assembled squad is expected to be challenging for the automatic promotion places in May.

Wanderers’ issues away from home are well-documented but Earl still makes the trip in bullish mood.

“I don’t think it (away form) has played on our minds much,” he said. “We have to believe we can win the game, even though Peterborough are obviously a very good side.

“We have done pretty well against sides at the top of the division before. We did Fleetwood, for example, and I think on our day we’re a match for that sort of quality.

“We do need to iron out mistakes because I think we’re causing ourselves problems at the moment. If we get back to the basics we can beat anyone.”


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