The inside track on Bolton Wanderers: The impressive ball carrier and Ian Evatt's tactics that Sunderland will have to be wary of
Sunderland are preparing for this weekend’s League One clash against Bolton Wanderers at the Stadium of Light – but what should we expect from Ian Evatt’s side.
Wanderers won promotion from League Two last season and sit eighth in League One after eight matches this term.
We caught up with Bolton reporter Marc Iles, chief football writer at The Bolton News, to get the inside track on Sunderland’s next opponents.
1. How has Bolton's start to the season gone and what can Sunderland expect?
MI: “Performances have probably eclipsed results so far, and though I'm personally quite happy with eighth, I'd imagine there is a bit of frustration inside the Bolton camp that they haven't got a few more points on the board.
“We have seen plenty of goals (only MK have scored more) and a few too many go in at the other end, too. Life is never dull at Bolton.”
2. What formation are Bolton likely to play?
MI: “Teeters between 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3, depending on opposition. Both full-backs push forward and Wanderers play the ball out from the back religiously.
"Quite a lot hinges on the deeper lying or central midfielder - usually MJ Williams - to provide the defensive cover when people go bombing forward.”
3. Who are the players Sunderland will need to keep an eye on, and what’s the latest on injuries?
MI: “Dapo Afolayan has been in great form this season, his ability to carry the ball forward at pace has been integral to Bolton's better performances and he has also added goals to his game too.
“Injury-wise, Amadou Bakayoko, Liam Edwards and Xavier Amaechi are definitely ruled out through injury but we are waiting to see if ex-Sunderland loanee Declan John will return after a bout of illness.”
4. What is the aim for Bolton this season?
MI: “Ian Evatt doesn't suffer for confidence and he reckons Bolton should be aiming high. That spreads throughout the squad and so they will expect to be challenging towards the top end of the table.
“There are a few more pragmatic types who recognise that after climbing out of League Two last season there may be an adjustment period. I am among them. But it is a pleasure to watch them at the moment because they are playing some great football, win, lose or draw.”
5. What’s the feeling among Bolton fans ahead of their trip to the Stadium of Light?
MI: “There was a bit of frustration around last week after the home defeat to Rotherham. It was a big home crowd and they had come off the back of hammering Ipswich 5-2, so maybe expectations were pitched a bit high?
“Everyone has noted what a good start Sunderland have made. But I am pretty confident in saying that you have to play well to beat Bolton these days.”
6. Would you be able to have a go at a predicted line-up?
MI: “Assuming John comes back from injury I'd go: Dixon; Jones, Santos, Johnston, John; Williams, Sheehan; Isgrove, Sarcevic, Afolayan; Doyle.”