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Ricardo Santos ready to go all the way in promotion battle

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse

Ricardo Santos reckons he can be the big man for the big occasion for Bolton.

After bouncing back to top form in the midweek win against Carlisle United, Wanderers’ influential centre-half insists there are no promotion nerves in the camp in the build-up to the biggest game of the season so far at Morecambe.

Though nothing can be decided on Saturday afternoon, Ian Evatt’s men know that victory at the Mazuma Stadium will ensure a four-point gap on the chasing pack going into the final two games of the season.

“I’m just going there confident,” Santos said. “I think we can enjoy it.

“We need no pressure. We have shown what we can do.

“I am enjoying every minute of it at the moment. I don’t want it to go to the last season but if it happens, it happens, we just have to take it game by game.”

Santos admits one of the reasons his own season transformed after a difficult start was the presence of veteran defender Alex Baptiste.

The two have formed a rock-hard partnership at the heart of a Bolton back four which is unrecognisable from the shaky start the club experienced with a three-man defence.

“I have played in a back four for most of my career, a bit in the back three as well,” Santos said. “But I think it gives us more stability and we’re not as vulnerable down the sides. I think I prefer it.

“Baps has been absolutely brilliant. For his age he has got so much energy and confidence and he puts belief in me as well.

“At the start of the season he was in and out of the side, not really playing every game. The centre-backs were rotated a lot. But once he came in he has been amazing and he has helped me so much, I can only thank him, really.”

Morecambe will be a very different proposition to previous foes Grimsby and Carlisle, with a counter-attacking style which has proved highly effective this season.

Derek Adams’ free-scoring side have exceeded expectations this term but were trailing to an Eoin Doyle goal at the UniBol in February until Marcus Maddison’s red card – later rescinded by the Football Association – gave them a late advantage, with Brad Lyons snatching an equaliser seven minutes from the end.

“When we played them at home there were no long balls, they were a footballing team and it’s nice, I prefer that,” Santos said.

“When teams come at us, I think we are good at finding ways to pick them off. But when we played Morecambe at home I don’t think they did, they sat in and tried to break.

“That means we have to be confident and we have to try and play our way through them.

“What happens anywhere else doesn’t matter. We can enjoy the game. Forget about the other results, just concentrate on winning that one.”


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