Allardyce in 'torment' on approach to The Valley

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The Bolton Wanderers manager, Sam Allardyce, admits the question of how seriously to treat tonight's Carling Cup tie at Charlton is "tormenting" him.

The Wanderers are in a rich vein of form in the Premiership having secured four straight wins and risen to third place behind Manchester United and Chelsea. But Allardyce is worried by the toll the third-round tie at The Valley may take on his depleted squad, particularly with Sir Alex Ferguson's side visiting Bolton on Saturday.

Allardyce, however, is eager to exact revenge for his side's sole blip this season - and is also aware that the Carling Cup represents perhaps the most straightforward route to European qualification. He said: "The question is, do I over-extend the squad on Wednesday night, even though there's always the possibility of extra time? And can I really see Sir Alex playing his full strength side at Crewe Alexandra, or will they be rested, getting ready for us here at the Reebok? I think we know the answer to that.

"I think if I sat down with my players they'd say 'let's go for both', and in my heart that's what I want to do, but in my head I need to be a little bit more sensible. It's tormenting me because Charlton is the only game we've lost this season, and that was against 10 men."

He added: "It is the easiest way into Europe in terms of the number of games. It's not the easiest way in the sense that you've got to win a domestic cup final to get there."