Bolton relaxed over Johan Elmander future

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The Independent Online

Bolton manager Owen Coyle has every faith Johan Elmander will not leave him in the dark regarding his future.

Elmander is out of contract and available on a free transfer in the summer, which has alerted many clubs, in particular after he rejected a 12-month extension to his deal in October.

Coyle has made it clear he wants the 29-year-old striker to remain at the Reebok Stadium, but in his words appreciates "it takes two to tango" as Bolton will have to come up with an offer acceptable to the Swede.

Chairman Phil Gartside is apparently due to speak with Elmander's agent, Anders Wallstein, at some stage within the next fortnight in the hope of brokering a deal.

If not, it is likely Elmander will have his pick of clubs, with Hoffenheim the latest this week to be linked.

Whatever happens Coyle has no doubts Elmander will keep him informed given the bond he has forged with the player.

"I'm surprised it's only the one club he has been linked with this week," said Coyle.

"But I don't get too caught up in it. It doesn't make any difference to me.

"The bottom line is Johan is my player until the end of the season, and he will give me everything he has got for each and every game, as he always has done.

"He is such a terrific player and a great guy to work with, and come the end of the season when a decision is made, whatever happens I'll be very comfortable with it.

"I want Johan to stay, of course I do, but I understand as well he is a top player who is out of contract in the summer, so he is well within his rights to decide what his options are.

"There might be something there Johan feels is the right challenge for him and his family, or an environment he wants to live in, and ultimately that is up to him.

"What I do know is that as and when that decision comes about he will come and tell me because of the relationship we have."

Coyle, meanwhile, believes long-term injury victims Joey O'Brien and Ricardo Gardner will both make their comebacks before the end of the season.

A succession of knee injuries has meant full-back O'Brien's last senior appearance for Bolton was in October 2008, although he did figure in pre-season last summer.

Midfielder Gardner has also been plagued by a knee injury this season, restricting him to just one appearance, in a Carling Cup win at Southampton towards the end of August.

However, both were back in a Whites shirt this week in a behind-closed-doors friendly victory over former Manchester United star Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's Molde.

"Joey and Ricardo played an hour of the game which is great because when you've been out for a period of time, as both lads have, there is a feeling of frustration," said Coyle.

"But when you're back on the pitch running around again with your colleagues, then it's terrific because they know they're on their way back to recovery.

"They both did very well and are progressing nicely, which augurs well, but they will know they are a number of weeks away from full fitness and we will give them all the help we can to get back.

"I would hope they will both be back before the end of the season, although they have to make sure they are 100% fit before they can show everybody what they can do."

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