Tuesday 28 March 2017

Coyle backs hero Davies for World Cup as Bolton edge closer to safety

Bolton 4
Wigan 0

Gordon Tynan

IT was a rare occasion in a season which has seen Owen Coyle's two clubs embroiled in a bitter relegation contest, but the Bolton Wanderers manager was able to concentrate exclusively on the positives after a victory which, surely, will keep his current team in the Premier League.

"When I took the job I believed I could keep Bolton in the league. The short-term aim was to do that. We have taken a step along that road," a content Coyle said.

The performances of Kevin Davies, a player Coyle believes should be considered for England's World Cup squad, and Fabrice Muamba -- whom the manager regards as a full international of the future -- ensured a great day at the office for the Scot.

Yet the most significant development may well have come with the opening goal, claimed by £10m Swedish international Johan Elmander, just the eighth goal of his 49-game Bolton league career and his first Premier League goal at the Reebok Stadium since the opening day of last season.

"I'd love him to be getting goals every week," said the former Burnley manager, who ignored the claims of the on-loan Croat Ivan Klasnic in standing by Elmander. "As a striker, you know you're judged on that, but what he brings to my team is his hard work."

Work rate, allied with a respectable strike rate, has been Davies' stock-in-trade throughout his Bolton career, which explains his cult hero status at the club.

On current form, though, Coyle insists Davies could command a spot alongside Emile Heskey or Bobby Zamora in the England manager Fabio Capello's squad.

"Kevin never ever lets you down and for me he is the best at what he does -- he's mobile, strong and given the right quality of ball he will get you goals too," Coyle said.

"He would never let anyone down for his country and would get a real lift from it. He's very patriotic and proud, and you would see him at the top of his game.

"If Mr Capello had a look it would certainly be worth it. Kevin Davies wouldn't be out of place in the England squad," Coyle added.

Wigan were unfortunate not to get an early penalty after Zat Knight tripped Hugo Rodallega but, with defender Gary Caldwell making four mistakes which led to each goal, this was an embarrassing reverse from beating Liverpool five days earlier.

Caldwell misjudged the ball for Elmander's opener, tripped Tamir Cohen to present Davies with a penalty, was easily beaten by Muamba for the third goal, which was without doubt the goal of the game, and then miskicked a clearance to present substitute Matt Taylor with Wanderers' fourth goal.

Irish Independent

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