The FA Cup can have a mixed perception for some teams. On one hand it can be a distraction for clubs wanting to concentrate on league their form. But on the other, it allows struggling teams to experiment with their line-up and gives them the chance to kick-start a good run with a win in the cup.
Bolton find themselves struggling, and hoping for a win anywhere they can find one. That therefore makes the FA Cup the perfect stage to get creative in their team selection to find that winning edge they’ve lacked this season.
Speaking to the Bolton News this week, Wanderers boss, Phil Parkinson has said there will be changes to his side in order to prioritise Tuesday night’s key league meeting with Reading.
So that got us thinking, what changes would we make to the Wanderers team if given the chance?
Following the formation’s success against Rotherham and Walsall, our Bolton team would line-up in a conventional 4-4-2 and would look like this…
> Remi Matthews
> Mark Little David Wheater Mark Beevers Jonathan Grounds
> Sammy Ameobi Joe Pritchard Luke Murphy Craig Noone
> Josh Magennis Connor Hall
But why this team? I hear you ask, well…
Remi Matthews would come in after he recently re-signed for the club on a permanent deal. This gives Bolton’s first-choice stopper, Ben Alwnick, the chance to rest up after he was reportedly in doubt for Monday’s defeat against West Brom (The Bolton News) but played through a possible injury.
Mark Little would finally get a chance in the Wanderers team after he’s watched on from the sidelines all season long. Little’s link-up play with Sammy Ameobi was a key aspect in Bolton’s game-plan last season but hasn’t been seen this year. Maybe it can bare fruits in the cup?
The defensive pairing of David Wheater and Mark Beevers could quite easily be changed around. After all, each of Bolton’s current centre-backs (Wheater, Beevers, Marc Wilson and Jack Hobbs) are all very similar in quality and style of play. However, we’ve gone for Wheater and Beevers as they’re Wanderers’ most experienced and dependable pairing.
Jonathan Grounds has won few fans at the University of Bolton Stadium this season. He’s been the victim of several inconsistent performances, but that’s hardly surprising given his inconsistent runs in the team. Whether a game against Bristol is the start of a period in the team or not, at the very least it gives Bolton’s other left-back, Andrew Taylor, a break ahead of Tuesday’s Reading game.
Noone and Ameobi would take their places on the respective wings. In a game you’re hoping to win, you just can’t leave out Sammy Ameobi, he offers Wanderers their only creative outlet.
Noone is another player who has had an inconsistent time at Bolton. However, if he can replicate the form shown in the third round that saw him play a part in four of Bolton’s five goals against Walsall, then he could be a key member of the side.
In the middle we’ve got Luke Murphy. He’s another man who has been sat on the sidelines for most of this season. The FA Cup is a good opportunity to give fringe players a chance and what better opportunity to include Murphy. After all, he was a regular starter in Bolton’s early-season winning form.
Joining him in central midfield is our surprise pick, Joe Pritchard. The 22-year-old signed from Tottenham in the summer and made an impressive cameo appearance against West Brom on Monday, so why not give him a chance to shine in the cup?
Up-front we’ve gone with Bolton’s top scorer, Josh Magennis. After a hat-trick in the previous round, it would be silly to leave him out. Although with Tuesday’s match against Reading to bear in mind, he probably won’t play the full 90 minutes.
Joining him in attack is another youth prospect, in the form of Connor Hall. The striker has recently returned from a loan spell at Accrington Stanley and we’re sure many fans would prefer to see a promising youth talent given an opportunity over say Clayton Donaldson for example.
However, regardless of what we think, the ultimate decision on Bolton’s line-up tonight rests with Phil Parkinson.
What do you make of our potential line-up? Is there anything you’d change?