Bolton Wanderers 3, Reading 0: Bolton facing Diouf and Anelka D-Day

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The Independent Football

A promising sign of things to come or the end of an era? By midnight on Friday Bolton's Sammy Lee will know precisely how to view the first victory of his managerial career, against a jaded Reading at the Reebok Stadium.

Friday is D-Day for Lee in his battle to retain the services of El Hadji Diouf and Nicolas Anelka, the two players who were head and shoulders above the rest as the home side escaped the foot of the table with their first points of the campaign.

There is a growing queue of clubs willing to take Anelka away from the Reebok before Friday's transfer deadline and Diouf, despite his controversial track record, is also attracting admirers. His comments last week, which clearly expressed a desire to move on, have only fuelled speculation that he will end his three-year spell at the club.

And as he waved to each corner of the ground before throwing his shirt into the crowd at the final whistle, it seemed that he was bidding his farewells. However, the former Liverpool forward insists that he is by no means set on a move away from Bolton this week. "I am here at the moment, I have two more years on my contract and I don't want to leave this club," Anelka said.

"I respect this club. When I was at Liverpool, everybody thought English football was not for me, but here people respect me and I have shown my quality. I want to give back to the club, not leave.

"If a big club comes in and Bolton are happy and I am happy, I move. But if this club is not happy and I'm not happy, I want to stay. I have everything here with the fans. I am playing good football and everybody loves me!"

Reading certainly could not live with Diouf and Anelka, whose partnership was one of pace, slick movement and obvious threat. While Diouf did not get himself on the scoresheet, he made the opening two goals, for Gary Speed and Anelka, before Daniel Braaten rounded off a comprehensive victory in the 90th minute.

Without Diouf and Anelka, Bolton will become a very ordinary team, bereft of a cutting edge; by keeping them at the club, Lee's first full season in charge will become so much easier.

Having successfully adapted to life in the Premiership last season, Reading are finding the start of their second campaign to be more testing, having lost twice and drawn once.

But the defender Ivar Ingimarsson has no fears of a difficult year ahead. "We are not worried about the second-season syndrome," he said. "It's overrated. It depends on the attitude of the players because if they are willing to work as hard as the year before and add a little bit, I don't see why we should struggle.

"We are a good team who can beat anyone, so I don't think confidence will be affected by this result."

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