Bolton V West Brom at Reebok Stadium : Match Preview
Coyle: Hodgson exit will give Baggies boost.
Bolton boss Owen Coyle is not convinced his side's chances of overcoming West Brom on Sunday have been boosted by Roy Hodgson's appointment as England manager. Wanderers host an Albion team who are coming to terms with the news that broke earlier this week about their head coach Hodgson, who will leave them at the end of the season to take up his new post with the Three Lions. The effect that may have on the Baggies - who are in the comfort of mid-table in the Barclays Premier League - remains to be seen, although QPR manager Mark Hughes has expressed his concern, saying he was "a little bit disappointed" the Football Association made a public move for Hodgson during the midst of the relegation run-in. With Bolton, in 18th, and 17th-placed QPR currently separated by goal difference alone with two games left to go each, a below-par display by West Brom at the Reebok Stadium could have a major impact on the battle to beat the drop.
But asked how he thought the news about Hodgson might affect the way Albion play, Coyle said: "I don't see why it would be a hindrance. "I would love it to be, but I don't see why. "They have the England manager now, he is an outstanding man and they have very good players. "But we have to focus on what we can do at Bolton and make sure we get to our best. "If we do that, we have shown that we can win points and win games."
Albion assistant manager Keith Downing insists the Black County club still have targets to achieve this season as they start to prepare for when Hodgson leaves. Hodgson will be in charge of the Baggies' final two games of the season - at relegation-threatened Bolton and at home to Arsenal on May 13 - before concentrating full-time on his new post. But Baggies number two Downing is adamant there are no thoughts of the players winding down for the summer when the search will begin in earnest for Hodgson's successor. He said: "We've got our own personal goals. We want to finish higher than last year (11th) with more points. "We've achieved a lot in the season, with 10 clean sheets, and we want to add to that. There's still stuff to play for. "We're three games unbeaten and we also know the importance of the Bolton game - for Bolton in particular. "Then we face Arsenal who will want to get into the top three or four to ensure Champions League football. "We have two big games coming up and we want to focus on that. "It's been a difficult week but, once that whistle blows on Sunday, it's a game of football and everyone is geared to try and win the game." Hodgson is ending his 15-month reign at The Hawthorns to take charge of his country but Downing is convinced he would have stayed and signed a new contract had England not come calling for his services.
He said: "Would Hodgson have stayed? Yes, definitely. We were planning and talking about players in the summer and planning trips abroad so I would have been really surprised if he'd gone. "There was no talk about him leaving. It was all about pushing the club on and taking the next step. "He didn't sign his contract and the England thing was hovering so I'm sure he was waiting to see. But, if somebody else had got the England job, I'm sure Roy would have committed himself to the club." Downing insists Bolton will provide a stern test despite being in the bottom three after losing 4-1 at home to Tottenham in midweek. He said: "I went to watch Bolton against Tottenham and certainly for 60 minutes they were right in the game. "They equalised and obviously have a threat in Kevin Davies and David Ngog up front. "Davies has certainly added some presence up there in the last game or two and changed the recent match against Aston Villa in fact. "We're fully aware Bolton will be fighting for their lives and there will be some intensity. I heard a comment from Owen Coyle that it is a `must-win' game." Albion striker Peter Odemwingie is struggling to overcome a hamstring injury in time to face the Trotters. But midfielder James Morrison is in contention to play some part after recovering from his recent knee problem following a full week's training. Bolton midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker (leg) will undergo a fitness test, Gretar Steinsson (thigh) remains a doubt while Darren Pratley is still sidelined with a virus.
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