Bolton manager Owen Coyle dedicates award to whole club

 

Bolton boss Owen Coyle feels his Barclays Premier League manager of the month award reflects the achievement of the club as a whole over a testing few weeks.

Wanderers were second from bottom after a 2-0 defeat at Manchester City at the beginning of March, but go into this weekend's home game against Fulham in 16th, a point clear of the drop zone with eight games left - one more than the four teams below them.

That surge is down to a sequence of three straight league victories - all against fellow strugglers in QPR, Blackburn and Wolves - which represents Bolton's best run of form in the top flight since 2006.

Notably, the last two wins came after the traumatic experience of midfielder Fabrice Muamba's cardiac arrest in the abandoned FA Cup quarter-final at Tottenham on March 17, and Coyle has paid tribute to the way the entire club has handled a difficult period.

"The award is lovely but really it is for the football club," Coyle said. "As much as they call it manager of the month, it is very much a collective effort at our football club.

"The players, staff and fans have been incredible, so on behalf of everybody I'd say we are delighted to pick it up.

"We would certainly love to have April's as well, because if we get that we'll know we have secured ourselves in the Premier League, so that is what we must strive to do in the coming month."

Muamba's remarkable recovery continues, with Coyle today confirming the player has been walking around in hospital.

Having collapsed on the pitch at White Hart Lane, the former England Under-21 international - who turns 24 tomorrow - received treatment there before being carried off on a stretcher and rushed to the London Chest Hospital.

It has emerged that it took 78 minutes for his heart to start working on its own again, but Muamba has made incredible progress since then and last Friday a picture of him sitting up in his hospital bed and smiling was posted on Twitter.

Asked this morning for an update, Coyle said: "He has done some short periods of walking down the corridor he is in as part of the unit, staying in intensive care.

"He is taking steps, talking and has that big smile which we love to see, so he is certainly progressing the right way.

"My chairman Phil Gartside was there yesterday with our club doctor Jonathan Tobin, and our club chaplain Phil Mason will be there today to continue the support from the football club.

"A couple of players have been sending him messages and we are keeping in touch. It has been great to see that smile and he continues to get better.

"We have to stress that he still has a long way to go, but the improvement has been remarkable and long may that continue."

Meanwhile, Coyle also had news on Muamba's fellow midfielders Stuart Holden and Lee Chung-yong, who have both been long-term absentees this season.

Holden (knee) is back in England after spending some of his rehabilitation time in his native United States, but Coyle stressed the 26-year-old is not expected to make a return to action until next season.

However, the Scot is optimistic that Lee, working his way back to fitness after breaking his leg last summer, may yet feature before the end of the season.

"We are hoping that Stuart will be available for the first day of pre-season training, ready to make that impact that he already has again next year," Coyle said.

"Lee Chung-yong continues to get better. He has done some light training on the grass on his own.

"My hope would be - and he needs continued improvement for this - that he can join in my training with the group in a couple of weeks' time.

"Then, if that is the case, we would need a couple of reserve games and I'd be hopeful that he might be able to be involved before the end of the season."

Bolton are still awaiting clearance from FIFA over their signing of winger Gregg Whyte, who put pen to paper on a three-year deal last month following his voluntary departure from crisis-hit Scottish giants Rangers.

PA

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