As Wanderers left Fratton Park with no points after a 1-0 defeat to Kenny Jackett’s south-coast outfit on Saturday, attention will have no doubt started to turn towards Bolton’s upcoming EFL Trophy fixture against fellow League One side Rochdale, the former home of Bolton boss Keith Hill.
And while Keith Hill is happy with the progress made so far, more is clearly required with the tough fixture looming, provided that it’s not rained off.
Speaking to the club’s website, Hill said: “four weeks into the job and I’m happy with the progress that the group’s making.”
However, the boss is still demanding more from his squad as: “some of them aren’t robust enough to the physical demands of a ninety-minute game.”
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Anyone who has seen Bolton since Keith Hill’s arrival will notice the striking difference between the Wanderers side of Phil Parkinson and the new-look Bolton of Keith Hill.
Players who looked like lost souls on the pitch now have the confidence to take the ball down and play and the drive to win possession of the ball is a stark contrast to the team who were keen to retreat to the edge of the box, allowing opponents to advance.
However, as Keith Hill mentions, more work is still to be done as it’s been clear that Bolton’s players aren’t quite up to the task of playing a full ninety-minute match as things stand and have tired noticeably in each of the games under Hill’s reign so far.
Thankfully, that’s an aspect of Wanderers’ game that will improve over the coming weeks, it’s just a shame that Keith Hill hasn’t had a full pre-season with this group of players before taking over.
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Nevertheless, Wanderers’ visit to Rochdale, their second of the season, will no doubt be a tantalising fixture for Keith Hill as he returns to the ground he once called home.
The new Bolton manager spent 11 years at Rochdale over the course of two lengthy spells, with a brief interlude at Yorkshire side Barnsley between 2011 and 2012.
Bolton’s EFL Trophy meeting with Rochdale will be only the second time that Hill has faced the club he called home for over a decade. In 2012, Hill’s Barnsley side triumphed in a highly entertaining 4-3 League Cup win over Dale. The new Wanderers boss will surely be hoping for a similar result this time around, no matter how unlikely.
Earlier this season, Bolton’s youngsters faced Rochdale in the League Cup and despite opening the scoring, were seen off 5-2.
Hopefully, Keith Hill’s Wanderers can fare a bit better this time.