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Paul Hurst Pre Bolton Wanderers

22 December 2016

Gaffer looks ahead to the festive trip to Bolton

Town are set for one of their toughest tests of the season on Boxing Day when they travel to high flying Bolton Wanderers.

Bolton may have lost their last game away at Chesterfield, but they currently sit 3rd in League One with the best defensive record in the league, having conceded just 13 goals all season.

Town boss Paul Hurst admits it will be a difficult task against a side he considers as one of the promotion favourites.

“It’s one that I think we should look forward to because it will be a big crowd and Boxing Day is a good atmosphere no matter where you go,” Paul told the Press

“Up until the last result they have been flying high and I’m sure they will want to get back to winning ways. Like I say there will be a good crowd in, nice stadium but very very tough opposition.

“From our side I don’t think they’ve got any real weaknesses. They’ve got a really good mix. They are physical, got some big threats at set plays, but then they’ve also got some individuals that can create something out of nothing and that’s a very dangerous combination.”

Despite the difficult challenge Town are on a high after back to back league wins and Paul hopes his players go there with confidence and put on a good display.

“It’s a challenge, but as a player you should want to play against teams like that and aspire to go there and try and get something,” Paul continued.

“We’re not going to go and get the white flag out. The Bristol Rovers game, with all the players missing and the suspensions, was a real bonus to get a victory and also the performance as well.

“The lads should be on a high. Overall things have gone in the right direction, but as I keep saying there’s a lot of hard work to do, starting with Bolton and then Rochdale.

“It is two really tough games, but we are not in a bad place ourselves and whatever happens you get up and go again or you roll with that confidence. Overall I am looking forward to it, but there’s no doubt that it is a big challenge.”

Town’s squad remains depleted by suspensions and injuries, but Paul reiterated that is gives a chance for others to impress.

“I am touching wood that we don’t pick up injuries prior to Boxing Day,” Paul hoped. 

“The suspended lads are still suspended. The other lads that were involved are moving closer, but that’s the only real positive. It looks like AJ is still going to be out, so we are as we are.

“He’s making progress in terms of running, but this week hasn’t been the progression we would have hoped. In my head I’m not looking after the Fleetwood game for his return and anything before that would be a bonus.

“But, the replacements can take some confidence from the way they played as individuals and as a team, which is the important thing and there’s no better test and challenge.

“You want players that are going to rise to those occasions and not go in their shell and hide, so it’s all part of me learning about the players still.”

Meanwhile, reports in the week had suggested that two trialists would be joined the club towards the end of this week, but Paul confirmed that only one player had in fact come for a trial.

“I think it just shows that you have to be careful on what’s reported”, said Paul.

“There is a trialist in and I’m not going to go into names or anything. I will let people speculate and come to decisions on that, but there is only one in.”

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