Behind Enemy Lines: Bolton Wanderers

MILLWALL go into this game looking for their first win over Bolton since 2012.

Last season, the Lions won promotion along with Phil Parkinson’s side, who finished second in League One.

Former Millwall man Mark Beevers was a key part of that side, forming an exceptional partnership with David Wheater in the centre of defence.

Jake Cooper and Lee Gregory could both be missing after picking up injuries against Stevenage, with Tom Elliot likely to partner Steve Morison up front and Byron Webster set to replace the former Reading man in central defence.

Following a 3-2 loss at home to Leeds United on the opening day, Bolton sit 16th in the table, five places above this weekend’s opponents. Like Millwall, Parkinson’s side progressed to the second round of the EFL Cup this week with a win at Crewe, and drew fellow Championship side Sheffield Wednesday in the next round.

Bolton are also missing some important players. David Wheater looks unlikely to be fit to play as he is struggling with a back injury, while Josh Vela and Sammy Ameobi are both out.

Ahead of Saturday’s meeting at The Den, Lucas Ball spoke to Robert Cole.

Twitter: @mediamacaque

What made you support Bolton?

I started supporting Bolton 40 years ago. I grew up there so it was natural (then) to start supporting your home-town team. Everyone did then. Nowadays, sadly, you see the kids in the town walking around with Man United and Liverpool shirts – that's the power of the media and the Premier League age. As we know all too well, money talks, sadly.

Do Bolton still have financial issues and, if so, what effect are they having?

The financial problems are still having a huge effect on the team. We can't buy any players, so we have to rely on loans and frees. When that is taken into account, Phil Parkinson has done an amazing job. I don't think we'll sniff the dizzy heights of the Premier League for many years, unfortunately.

What are your expectations for 2017-18?

I think the best we can hope for this season is mid-table respectability. Of course, like all fans, we secretly dream of winning the league, but that's exactly what that is – a dream. Staying up is of course the main aim, for most clubs, and then to push on from there.

Who are Bolton’s key players on Saturday?

With David Wheater probably out through injury, it’ll be up to Mark Beevers to lead at the back. He needs to have a good game to stop Steve Morison and his strike partner doing too much damage.

Josh Cullen was brilliant in League One for Bradford, and his creativity throughout the season will be crucial to our goal-scoring exploits. Whoever starts up front should be provided with some decent service, but that will be slightly reduced without Josh Vela.

From this Millwall side, who do you see causing Bolton issues?

George Saville has been excellent in your opening two fixtures, so stopping him and Shaun Williams from controlling the ball in midfield will be pivotal.

Tom Elliott and Steve Morison up front would be a handful for any centre-back pairing, so we could struggle to deal with that without Wheater’s experience and ability.

I noticed that Neil Harris said Shaun Hutchinson was arguably Millwall’s best player in pre-season, so there could be an interesting battle between our forwards and your defence.

What is your predicted Bolton line-up and formation?

I’d expect us to stick with the 5-3-2 we employed last week against Leeds:

Howard

Darby Dervite Burke Beevers Taylor

Cullen Karacan Pratley

Le Fondre Madine

Finally, what is your score prediction?

Millwall 1-2 Bolton

Staff

(@NewsAtDen)