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Bolton Nuts » BWFC » Bolton Wanderers News » Preston loanee Josh Earl: "I'd love to stay at Bolton Wanderers"

Preston loanee Josh Earl: "I'd love to stay at Bolton Wanderers"

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karlypants

karlypants
Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse
Josh Earl says he will be seeking Preston North End’s permission to extend his loan at Wanderers – if Keith Hill chooses to keep him.

The young defender is now hitting his stride in a Bolton shirt after a tough first few months punctuated by injury and suspension.

Earl has carved out a niche on the left side of Wanderers’ defence and his importance to the new shape Keith Hill has implemented is underlined by the fact he saw more of the ball than any other player in the two games against Southend United and Sunderland.

Now, Southport-born Earl is hoping he can finish the job he has started by helping Bolton retain their place in League One.

“I have really enjoyed playing here and get on with everyone,” he told The Bolton News.

“I would love to stay to the end of the season. I am happy fighting for my shirt and feel like I have got something to play for – to keep Bolton up, which I think we can, would be an amazing achievement.

“I’d like to see us keep as many loan players as we can who have done well for us and try to push on. We can go into the New Year feeling confident, I think.”

Hill has yet to make a final decision on the four loanees currently in the squad and Earl points out that the ultimate decision will rest with his parent club.

“There’s no doubt I want to stay but obviously it’s their decision, at the end of the day. But I don’t think they have any problem with me wanting to stay at Bolton.

“It’s just a case of sorting things out, seeing what happens in January at Preston, and taking things from there, really.”

After exhibiting some signs of defensive frailty at set pieces in their last home outing against Southend, the resolute display at the Stadium of Light on Boxing Day was more akin to what Hill will require in the New Year if the so-called ‘Impossible Dream’ is to become a reality.

Earl discussed the tactical tweaks which were made for the two games and admits the defensive improvement came from a rather unexpected source.

“Clean sheets away from home are a massive bonus as a defender but I have to say, it wasn’t just about the back four, the wingers, Joe Dodoo and Thibaud Verlinden, worked so hard to track their wingbacks. It was almost like having six at the back at times,” he said.

“Playing against a side with three up top, their two wider front players came inside quite a lot. That means me and Josh Emmanuel had to stay quite narrow to help out Josh Wright and Liam Bridcutt, or they would have been overloaded.

“The wingers getting back and tracking those wingbacks made a massive difference. They did the dirty work, stopped crosses, won headers.

“When we broke, we broke well. We created chances and I genuinely thought we played well. I’d say we’re getting getting fitter and we’re communicating better on the pitch.

“I feel as though we’re working harder to protect a clean sheet, as in it’s a main goal going out there. There’s more focus.

“The attacking players have got quality to hurt teams, so if we can nail down that side of the game then it is going to give us a good chance.”

There will be little time to hone Hill’s game plan between the recovery sessions from the Sunderland trip and Sunday’s home game against Shrewsbury Town.

Such is the density of English football’s festive programme, Earl admits the responsibility of preparation falls more on to the shoulders of the individual than the coaching staff.

“Everyone has little knocks at this time of year, so it’s a case of looking after yourself,” he said.

“Eat right, drink right, get sleep, you just need to do the right things and make sure you are available for the game on Sunday.

“It might surprise people how little actual training gets done. You need to do something, little warm-ups so that you are not sat inside.

“Everyone knows their own body and what they can handle, so it will be different for each player. But I like to keep active.”

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