Coyle enjoying selection headache
Friday 22 October 2010
Bolton manager Owen Coyle admits the fine form of his entire squad over the last few weeks has made it difficult for him to choose his first XI.
Ivan Klasnic was the latest fringe player to make an impression last weekend as the Croatian striker came off the bench to notch Wanderers' winner against Stoke in stoppage time.
Having subsequently been sent off, Klasnic is not available for Saturday's trip to Wigan in the Premier League, but Coyle is still expecting some selection headaches as he tries to give everyone the chance they deserve.
"We have tremendously gifted individual players, but I have always said from day one, our first strength will be in the group," Coyle said. "By the group, I don't mean the 11 players that play – I mean everyone that is a Bolton Wanderers player. We have all got a part to play. Believe it or not, the hardest thing over the last few weeks has been to pick the team, because there are more than 11 who deserve to start.
"I recognise how hard the players are working day in, day out, and all I can say to them, as I have done, is that they have to keep knocking at the door, knowing that it is going to burst open for them – as it did for Klasnic. He took his chance and he'll get opportunities.
"The disappointment for Ivan is that on the back of that, he is also suspended now, but all the lads that are coming on are playing their part – Matty Taylor, Robbie Blake who came on and scored a great goal against Birmingham. They all have a part to play, they know that and I think that is a tremendous strength that we have.
"With these lads, I can't argue with the fact that they are deserving of a chance because of how well they are doing," Coyle said. "Equally, they know the boys in front of them have been doing ever so well, so they are all keeping each other on their toes and I would rather have that problem than worrying that the ones playing or coming in were not up to scratch."
The victory over Stoke lifted Bolton to seventh in what has been an impressive start to the 2010-11 campaign.
Around the same time as Klasnic was wrapping up the three points, Wigan saw two slipping away at Newcastle thanks to a last-gasp equaliser by Fabricio Coloccini, and Coyle knows that his side will soon be punished if they become complacent about their recent success. "The margins in the Premier League are minimal and it is about trying to come out on the right side of those," Coyle said.
"Somebody said to me this morning about what a great start it has been, but I tried to get the point across – it is great for people to have that perception, but if we hadn't scored that last-minute winner, we would be sitting in the middle, in amongst that group.
"The important thing is that you recognise where you are through hard work. You don't get carried away and you know the only way to go and achieve points is to continue in the vein of form that you are showing."
Roberto di Matteo believes the never-say-die attitude of his West Brom players has been a key factor in their flying start to the League season. Albion have shown their fighting qualities in coming from at least a goal down in five of their last six matches. Their last 11 goals have also been scored in the second half of matches.
Di Matteo said: "Last season we won a lot of points in the last 15 minutes of games and we've carried that. You tell your players never to give up but it's more about instilling it on a daily basis. It's a philosophy to have and doesn't matter what league you are in."
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