Bolton boss Owen Coyle is hoping Saturday's Barclays Premier League clash with Sunderland can be the first step towards re-establishing the Reebok Stadium as a daunting place to visit. Last season the Trotters won 10 of their 19 home matches and lost only four, but this term they have failed to register a single point in matches against Manchester City, Manchester United, Norwich and Chelsea, shipping 15 goals in the process.
Away from the Reebok Bolton have fared better, with last weekend's 3-1 win at Wigan ending a run of six successive league defeats, and Coyle hopes Saturday can bring more of the same. The Scot said: "We had a fortress at the Reebok last season. We want to get back to making sure that anyone coming to the Reebok knows they're going to have to be at their very best to try to get anything, and the sooner we do that, the better. "Saturday provides an opportunity to show our quality and I've got no doubts the players will be looking to give the fans something to smile about. "They did it last week. We had 4,000 at the game and it felt like 20,000 with the vocal backing. "I want to give those supporters and everybody at the football club a team to be proud of, and the only way we can do that is not by talking about it, it's going and delivering on it when we cross that white line."
Despite seeing his squad depleted by long-term injuries, Coyle shuffled his pack at Wigan last week and told his players they must earn their place in the side, and he may well stick with the same XI that responded so well. Defender Marcos Alonso has returned to training after eight weeks out with a broken foot while midfielder Lee Chung-yong is also back at the club after a spell at home in South Korea, although he is some way away from a return following his double leg break in pre-season. Coyle added: "Lee Chung-yong fully fit is worth #10-20million, that's how good this boy's going to be. He was set for, I believe, a sensational season. "It was the first year we managed to get him four or five weeks of a break because he'd played consistently for two years and pre-season he looked unbelievable and we were all excited about what was going to happen. "Unfortunately it was taken away from him with the injury but to have him back and continuing his progress and his rehabilitation is great."
Sunderland boss Steve Bruce is targeting an extension of his 100% record against Bolton to belatedly kick-start the club's season. Bruce's four games to date against the Trotters since he took over at the Stadium of Light have all resulted in victory, and as the Black Cats prepare to head for the Reebok Stadium, a fifth successive win could hardly be more timely. Sunderland could conceivably find themselves in the Barclays Premier League relegation zone this weekend if they do not improve upon a miserable run of just one victory in their eight league games to date.
They head for the north-west just a point better off than bottom-of-the table Blackburn and clear of the bottom three only by virtue of goal difference. The table does not make for pleasant reading, but while Bruce cannot avoid looking at it, he is confident better times are just around the corner. He said: "I would be lying if I said I didn't [look at the table], but Arsenal were one point above us last week and beat us and went to 10th. "The Premier League this year has got a familiar look to it, where the big boys are beating everybody, and that's usually been the case in the Premier League. "There are 10, 12 teams, separated by three or four points, which is good. "When you are on a disappointing run like we are at the moment, we know that we are a win away from being in mid-table, so let's hope. "We have got a good record at Bolton - let's hope we can go and play there. "I think the longer it goes on, the better we will become here. I hope that's the case. "Certainly, though, we need to go and win a few games. We have had a disappointing start, we are aware of that. We must try now to win a few games. "When you look at our group of fixtures from now until Christmas, you would think, 'Here's the opportunity'."
Bruce will be boosted this weekend by the return of striker Nicklas Bendtner, who was ineligible for last week's 2-1 defeat by parent club Arsenal, and full-back Phil Bardsley, whose four-match suspension has lasted six weeks.
Bolton V Sunderland - view commentary, squad, and statictics of the game live.