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Eyes on the prize - Dacres-Cogley confident Wanderers can clinch top two

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse

Eyes on the prize - Dacres-Cogley confident Wanderers can clinch top two 17857123

Will Bolton Wanderers make the automatic promotion spots this season?

It is a question that has been asked a hundred times by every supporter who has lived the journey with Ian Evatt’s team over the last seven-and-a-half months. And the answer won’t become apparent for a few weeks yet.

Hopes were dashed after dropped points at Barnsley and Exeter, revived somewhat by a big win against Oxford United, and this weekend the outcome of a trip to Derby County will once again alter expectations through the international break, one way or another.

To most fans, it has already been a dizzying ride of highs and lows, with the highest – or lowest – moment still to come.

Inside the camp, Josh Dacres-Cogley says the mood has stayed remarkably calm.

Whilst there was disappointment at Oakwell and St James Park, there was also a firm belief that they had played well enough to warrant more. And after the final whistle in midweek, the celebrations lasted as far as the walk from the pitch to the dressing room.

“We know that is the standard,” he told The Bolton News. “We can’t listen to outside noise. I don’t think anyone in the team is focusing on what other people are saying.

“We are confident we can get automatic promotion, and that is everyone’s goal. It is all we want. We don’t want to drop into the play-offs.

“We did need to make a statement, to come out all guns blazing, and we got our reward with the chances we created and our hard work.

“Everyone expects us to be like that. If we don’t get there, then we should expect to hear it. We should be hearing it from each other if someone isn’t doing their job, or what they are capable of doing.”

There has been a necessary circling of the waggons by Evatt and his players over the last month, as injuries hit hard, and performances were not always as easy on the eye as the win against Oxford.

The punishing schedule of 22 games in 75 days will ease to something more normal after Derby but the opinions certainly won’t stop, nor will the pressure on Bolton to make sure they are playing Championship football next season.

Dacres-Cogley accepts relationships between the players, away from the public eye, are now more important than ever.

“Sometimes individuals take it differently,” he said. “The team tries to get round everyone to keep them focused on the goal ahead. If anyone gets doubts in their head then they have got their mate next to them to pick them up and keep going.

“That has been the main focus for us. We have to stick together all the way through and make sure that shows through on the pitch too.”

Saturday’s result at Pride Park will not make or break Bolton’s season – but Dacres-Cogley felt the compelling performance against Oxford is a signal that his team are up for the fight.

“Everyone knows it is a massive game and that was part of the reaction (against Oxford) because that is how we want to play it,” he said. “That is how we will be taking it to Derby, so good luck to them.”


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