Owen Coyle: Now is the time for Bolton to decide their fate
Bolton manager shrugs off midfield injury crisis ahead of tonight's trip to relegation rivals Villa
Bolton manager Owen Coyle has told his side they must forget about the injuries they have and cash in their games in hand to avoid following Wolves into the Championship.
Bolton are second bottom and four points from safety but they have five games still to play while Blackburn, Wigan and QPR all have just three more fixtures. Aston Villa, who are not clear of danger in 15th, are first up tonight.
Coyle said: "Wolves are a fantastic club but sometimes things go against you for whatever reason. Nobody wants to see what happened to Wolves happen to their own club and if that's an added incentive for us then all well and good. For our own part, we have to make sure we are ready to give five big performances and pick up enough points to stay in the league. Everyone knows it is the business end of the season.
"There are six points available from the games in hand. If you told me we'd get six points from those games, you'd do somersaults to get them. We'd have loved to have those points in the bag, but we have the opportunity and we have to maximise that opportunity. Bottom line is that we decide our own fate."
Coyle believes his side can get enough positive results. A three-match winning run in March was followed by consecutive defeats, before a draw at home to Swansea.
"We're not a team that has been struggling for form," he said. "We have 10 points from the last 18 and if we can return that in our last five games that's enough to stay in the Premier League. If we do that then the whole picture changes very quickly. Regardless of the people we have missing, we have enough quality to stay in the league."
Coyle is monitoring the fitness of Mark Davies as he attempts to keep a threadbare midfield functioning. A horrendous run of problems – starting in pre-season when Lee Chung-yong and Stuart Holden suffered long-term injuries and including Fabrice Muamba's cardiac arrest on the field against Tottenham – has left Bolton desperately short in the engine room.
Davies sustained a knock against Swansea and did not train yesterday, but Coyle is hoping he can take on Villa. If not, 18-year-old Josh Vela could be pressed into action after making a late debut last time out.
"I think I'm left with just Nigel Reo-Coker of my senior midfielders having had eight at the start of the season," said Coyle. "Lee, Holden, Sean Davis, Ricardo Gardner, Muamba, Darren Pratley... now there's Nigel and Mark Davies, possibly. But we have young Josh Vela, who's going to be a top, top player so we'll patch it up and look to do our very best to get the points available to us."
Bolton's task may be made easier by the fact Villa have won only four times at home this season. They lie only five points above the bottom three and manager Alex McLeish has seen his team surrender home leads several times.
The Scot said: "Our record at home is rotten. It's not something we are proud of. It's something that we can't do anything about now but we've got to do something about the next game. We've got to go all out to win it. The stakes of the Premier League are enormous.
Villa were given some good news yesterday, although it will not affect tonight's match. The central defender Richard Dunne returned to training after two months out of action with a broken collarbone.
Dunne should be available for the final two games of the season, against Tottenham and Norwich. It is also a boost for the Republic of Ireland ahead of Euro 2012. Dunne has been out since suffering the injury against Manchester City in February.
Kick-off 7.45pm (Highlights: Sky Sports 2, 11.15pm). Odds Villa 5-6; draw 12-5 ; Bolton 14-5. Ref C Foy (Merseyside).
Basement battle: Remaining fixtures
Aston Villa Tonight Bolton (h); Saturday WBA (a); 6 May Tottenham (h); 13 May Norwich (a)
Queen's Park Rangers Sunday Chelsea (a); 6 May Stoke (h); 13 May Manchester City (a)
Wigan Athletic Saturday Newcastle (h); 7 May Blackburn (a); 13 May Wolves (h)
Blackburn Rovers Sunday Tottenham (a); 7 May Wigan (h); 13 May Chelsea (a)
Bolton Wanderers Tonight Villa (a); Sat Sund (a); 2 May Tott (h); 6 May WBA (h); 13 May Stoke (a)
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