Replacing Craig Dawson: The Contenders

  • April 29, 2013 | By Chris Mann
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With Craig Dawson now back at West Bromwich Albion, we look at the contenders to replace him in the Bolton team.

Dawson had been an ever present in the Wanderers side since his arrival from the Baggies in February, racking up 16 consecutive appearances for Dougie Freedman's side. Bolton suffered just three defeats in that time - winning ten (62.5%) - as they moved from 20th in the Championship all the way up to the play-off places.

The England under-21 international scored four goals during his time at the Reebok Stadium, including two against Hull City in only his fourth game at the club. It is his impact at the other end that will be missed, however, with Wanderers having a settled back-four for the first time this season.

Freedman looks set to stand by the trio of Marcos Alonso, Zat Knight and Sam Ricketts for the final game of the season against Blackpool. Whether he chooses a direct replacement for Dawson or switches to a five-man defence remains to be seen, but here is a look at the contenters to fill the void.

Matt Mills

After joining Bolton for a fee of around £2million, Mills began the season as a regular under the management of Owen Coyle. That trend continued when Freedman succeeded Coyle in October, with Mills starting the first five games under the new boss.

After a couple of games out of the side, Mills returned for December's trip to Huddersfield Town. He would play 85 minutes at the John Smith's Stadium, before being forced out of the game with a thigh injury. The initial prognosis predicted he would miss six weeks of action but the former Reading defender has featured just once since - as a stoppage time substitute in a 1-0 win over the Terriers at the Reebok Stadium.

2012/13 Statistics:
18, Goals: 1
Games Won: 7, Games Drawn: 8, Games Lost: 3
Win Percentage: 38.8%

Tim Ream

With his long-term future at the club seemingly in doubt, Ream returned to the Bolton side on Boxing Day as Freedman's side lost 1-0 at home to Sheffield Wednesday.

With Mills on the sidelines, Ream became the regular partner for Zat Knight at the heart of the Wanderers defence and played in six consecutive Championship matches between Boxing Day and early February until Dawson's arrival.

The United States international hasn't featured since, although he has remained free from long-term injury - unlike Mills and David Wheater.

2012/13 Statistics:
16, Goals: 0
Games Won: 3, Games Drawn: 5, Games Lost: 8
Win Percentage: 18.75%

David Wheater

After suffering cruciate ligament damage in the penultimate game of the 2011/12 campaign, Wheater has been limited to just three cameo appearances this season. His longest spell of action on the pitch stands at just 11 minutes, in Wanderers' 3-2 win at Barnsley in March.

When Gary Cahill left to join Chelsea in January 2012, Wheater was tipped to become a regular part of the Bolton backline. That initially proved to be true, but his knee issues and several minor niggles since then have seen him fall down the pecking order. With so much riding on Saturday's game against Blackpool, it wouldn't come as much of a surprise to see the former Middlesbrough man rested until the start of next season.

2012/13 Statistics:
3, Goals: 0
Games Won: 3, Games Drawn: 0, Games Lost: 0
Win Percentage: 100%

Cian Bolger

The wildcard of the pack, Cian Bolger joined Bolton from Leicester City on the final day of the January transfer window. The 21-year-old has yet to feature for the senior team, but recent hints from Freedman suggest he could call upon his youth and development squad players.

With another three years on his contract, Wanderers fans will probably have to wait to see the Irishman in action but a shortage of options could provide him with an unlikely place amongst the substitutes.

2012/13 Statistics:
0, Goals: 0
Games Won: 0, Games Drawn: 0, Games Lost: 0
Win Percentage: N/A

Sky Bet League One Standings

Pos Team Pld Pts
1 Accrington Stanley 0 0
2 Barnsley 0 0
3 Bolton Wanderers 0 0
4 Bristol Rovers 0 0
5 Burton Albion 0 0
View Full Standings >>


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