Allardyce counsels caution

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Bolton go to Portsmouth tonight in sight of a Champions' League spot. They are also through to the last 32 of the Uefa Cup and the fifth round of the FA Cup, after beating Arsenal.

Their manager, Sam Allardyce, however, is refusing to get too excited. "You are very loath to predict what might happen as a manager," he said yesterday. "It's better to err on the side of caution, particularly when you have been a defender like me.

"In that role, you are always worried the mistake you made might cost you the game. If you are an attacker you dream about scoring the winner. That's why I am a pessimist.

"I take one game at a time and try and predict the difficulties we might face. Should we clinch a Champions' League spot and a place in the FA Cup final I might be able to brag a bit, but not at the moment."

Allardyce's squad is severely depleted, with Jay-Jay Okocha, El Hadji Diouf, Abdoulaye Faye and Radhi Jaidi on African Nations' Cup duty in Egypt.

Ivan Campo, Gary Speed and Henrik Pedersen are injured, although Khalilou Fadiga could soon return following a knee problem.

Campo is out for at least 10 weeks with a broken right foot and his contract expires in the summer.

Allardyce said: "We will take this up as quickly as possible with the chairman [Phil Gartside] and discuss which way we proceed.

"Then we will talk to Ivan when we have made that decision and see where we go from there."