While Wanderers’ injury list continues to border on the farcical, Elias Kachunga has looked to rally the last men standing for another battle against Cheltenham.
Though his team-mates are falling around him like ninepins, the German-born striker happens to be coming into the best form of his Bolton career.
Having registered three goals and a handful of assists in his last five games, Kachunga is starting to reward the faith shown in him by Ian Evatt earlier in the campaign as he fought to regain full fitness after missing the summer’s pre-season.
Evatt lauded Kachunga’s performance in victory against Doncaster as the best since he arrived on a free transfer in August, on a night where it would have been easy to dwell on the negatives.
Now the 29-year-old is hoping to influence those around him as Bolton’s skeletal squad welcomes a familiar face from the League Two promotion run.
“We have young players in the squad but this is a situation where we can grow,” he told The Bolton News.
“We can’t rotate as much as we normally do now to get the fresh legs in – but this was important to get the three points, especially at home and to take a good feeling for Saturday.
“We have to come together as a team now. Even though we have small numbers we have to give everyone a lift when we get tired on the pitch.”
Kachunga’s importance may be elevated this weekend in the absence of top-scorer Dapo Afolayan, who picked up a fifth booking of the season against Doncaster and will serve a one-game ban.
It sums up the misfortune felt in the Bolton camp that had the winger survived 90 minutes without a caution, the EFL’s cut-off point would have been reached.
But Kachunga is adamant the remaining players can pull together and produce another winning display.
“The star is the team right now,” he said. “We have to come together and make sure it is not a one man show.
“Everyone has to show they give everything for the team. We will be missing Dapo in the next game but someone else has to step up and put a good performance in.
“We have (Eoin Doyle) again. He is such an important player for us, and he has the experience as well to help the younger boys on the pitch. It was great to have him back.”
Kachunga had waited 21 games to open his account for Bolton, and though he had a hand in a few goals, the burden of expectation for what was one of the club’s highest-profile signings of the summer was starting to grow.
The former Huddersfield Town man always maintained he would get there in the end, and after Evatt’s praise on Tuesday night he hopes to finally show the Wanderers fans what he can do.
“I have not been here long but it is good to hear from the gaffer,” he said. “I have to build on this now.
“I am happy to score my first league goal and to perform at a good level for the team. When we get three points it is even better.
“I just needed game time and a bit of trust from the manager.
“I needed to play week in, week out, get used to it. And also for the players on the pitch to understand how I play and I understand how they play.
“You can see today, Dapo’s cross or my assist for Doyler, they are in the right place.
“I am trying my best to recover for every game. If I can help the team with goals and assists, it is good for me. I just have to build on it.
“We wish we had more players who could come in – but the players who are here now have to show why they should stay on the pitch, to wear the shirt and give everything for the team.”
Although Wanderers’ task was made more straightforward against Doncaster by a sending-off just before half time, Kachunga felt the team deserved a break after what he felt was some unjust criticism of the result at Wycombe.
“Against Doncaster we showed that if we come together and get the support from the stands as well, we can push and drive forward, even when we have smaller numbers.
“I think in a few games we have been really unlucky. Sometimes when we have lost we should have got at least a draw. But I think this was a solid performance, especially after the red card.
“It would be easy to play the game on but we concentrated, communicated really well and it was a deserved three points.
“This is why I came to Bolton. I had good talks with the gaffer how he wants to play.
“This was a good result but we have to back it up on Saturday because that is another important game for us and we need another three points.
“Everyone has to recover as quickly as possible. It is another massive game for us but we are playing at home so we need big chests, supporters behind us, and build on it.”