Watford v Bolton Wanderers - Preview

  • August 08, 2014 | By Chris Mann
  • URL Short URL: http://b-ac.es/aa066

Bolton kick-off their third successive season in the Championship on Saturday, as they face much-fancied Watford at Vicarage Road.

More than three months have passed since the dramatic scenes at the Reebok Stadium on the final day of last season saw Birmingham City escape relegation into League One. With the World Cup and pre-season schedules complete, the real action returns at the weekend.

Wanderers go into their opening game unbeaten in eight games on the road, a run they last matched in October 2001. Should they make it nine on Saturday, they will achieve that feat for the first time since August 1997.

If they are to get a positive result at Vicarage Road, they will probably have to do it without the services of Mark Davies - who is a major doubt because of a fractured toe.

Davies featured in just four of Wanderers eight pre-season games, failing to complete 90 minutes on any occasion, so the likes of Darren Pratley and Neil Danns will be hoping to get the nod to start behind Jermaine Beckford in attack.

Craig Davies and Conor Wilkinson are expected to provide backup to Beckford, by being named as substitutes, although there should be places in midfield for other attacking threats such as Liam Feeney and either Robert Hall or Lee Chung-Yong.

Jay Spearing and Medo Kamara should provide cover for the defence, which could see summer signing Dean Moxey handed a competitive debut at left-back. Kevin McNaughton is likely to make his second debut for the club, at right-back, with Matt Mills and Tim Ream holding off competition from Dorian Dervite and David Wheater at the heart of the back-four.

Adam Bogdan could take a place on the bench, after missing pre-season with a back injury, but Andy Lonergan will start in goal, hoping to make amends for a poor spell of form last season which saw him lose his place.

Other than the aforementioned absence of Mark Davies, Bolton will be without the injured quartet of Marc Tierney, Josh Vela, Andy Kellett and Sanmi Odelusi, while Joe Riley, Alex Baptiste and Keith Andrews are all out on loan.

Speaking of Andrews, he will spend the season on loan at Watford but will be ineligible for Wanderers' trip to Hertfordshire on Saturday afternoon.

Daniel Toszer was likely to start ahead of the former Republic of Ireland international, in any case, but bigger blows to Hornets boss Giuseppe Sannino will be injuries to Craig Cathcart and Sean Murray.

Cathcart has struggled to overcome a knee injury which has dogged his pre-season, while Murray is doubtful because of an ankle problem.

Troy Deeney is expected to shrug off speculation surrounding his future by captaining the side and he should be joined in attack by Matej Vydra, who has returned for a second loan spell at the club - following a hugely successful season in 2012/13.

Bolton Wanderers: from: Bogdan, Lonergan, Fitzsimons, McNaughton, Moxey, Mills, Ream, Dervite, Wheater, White, Taylor, Threlkeld, Maher, Sellers, Matthews, Spearing, Feeney, Hall, M Davies, Trotter, Danns, Pratley, Hughes, Chung-Yong, Lester, Woodland, Kellett, Kamara, Bastos, Beckford, C Davies, Eaves, Wilkinson, Clough, Youngs, Iliev, Knight

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Sky Bet League One Standings

Pos Team Pld Pts
19 Rochdale 32 33
20 AFC Wimbledon 33 31
21 Tranmere Rovers 32 26
22 Southend United 33 16
23 Bolton Wanderers 31 11
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