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Bolton V Fulham at Reebok Stadium : Match Preview
Published : 07 Apr 2012 11:36:32
Bolton galvanised by Muamba - Jol
Fulham manager Martin Jol believes Saturday's opponents Bolton have been galvanised by recent events involving Fabrice Muamba. The midfielder collapsed after suffering a cardiac arrest during the Trotters' FA Cup quarter-final at Tottenham on March 17, leading to the game being abandoned. It has since emerged that it took 78 minutes for his heart to start working on its own again, but Muamba has made great progress since then and a week ago a picture of him sitting up in his hospital bed and smiling was posted on Twitter. Jol believes it is no coincidence that Bolton's fortunes have improved since the incident, with the team achieving three successive league victories for the first time since December 2006. "It has helped, especially in the first game as they wanted to do it for him," the Dutchman said. "That gave them motivation and they got back to winning ways, which is a mentality as well. That is why I think they are probably better than before. "You saw them get out of the bottom three or bottom four as they got points on the board. But they still need a lot of points to be safe so I think they will scrap and fight for their life. Before these three wins they didn't do particularly well, not even at home. We had a certain style when we played them at home, we hurt them and hopefully we can do that again away from home." Fulham were due to find out on Friday whether Pavel Pogrebnyak will be available for the trip to the north west. The Russia international twisted an ankle in the 2-1 win over Norwich last weekend and was being assessed by the club's medical staff. Pogrebnyak is expected to be fit for Monday's game with Chelsea, but fellow striker Andrew Johnson will definitely miss both matches with a thigh complaint. Fulham can welcome back front man Orlando Sa after a hamstring injury, although Jol has yet to decide whether to include him or Marcello Trotta in the squad.
Meanwhile, Bolton manager Owen Coyle has urged his team to keep their foot on the pedal after seeing them boost their survival bid by taking maximum points from their last three games. Consecutive victories over fellow strugglers QPR, Blackburn and Wolves have moved the Trotters up to 16th in the Barclays Premier League, a point clear of the relegation zone they had previously inhabited, and the home clash with Fulham is the first of eight matches they have left - one more than the four sides below them. Things are looking good for Bolton's chances of avoiding the drop at the moment, but some of their rivals have also recorded significant results of late - 17th-placed QPR beat Arsenal 2-1 last weekend, while 19th-placed Wigan notched their second straight win by defeating Stoke 2-0 - and Coyle wants there to be no let-up in his side's momentum. "We have to continue doing what we are doing - looking to win games," said Coyle, who was this week named manager of the month for March. "Everybody around us is picking up and doing well, which doesn't come as a surprise because we are all good sides. "You could get the best 20 managers in world football and bring them into the Premier League and somebody would have to fill each of the different spaces - it doesn't necessarily mean that one is better than the other. "We know there is quality in this league. We just have to make sure that for our part, we are doing our utmost to gather the points to make us safe." Bolton defender Gretar Steinsson and midfielder Darren Pratley could be set to make their return to action having been sidelined by a knee problem and gashed leg respectively, but Gregg Wylde remains unavailable, with Wanderers still awaiting clearance from FIFA over their signing of the winger.