Bolton Wanderers manager Keith Hill insists he is still determined to see his side advance from the first round of the FA Cup this weekend, despite the potential for a fixture pile-up later in the season.
The Trotters are set to host League Two Plymouth Argyle at the University of Bolton Stadium in the opening round of the cup on Saturday, when a win would add another game to the club’s schedule at the end of this month.
The postponement of league games for a variety of reasons earlier in the campaign means that Bolton have already played four fewer games than some of their League One rivals, but it seems Hill is not concerned about adding another FA Cup match to what is already set to be a busy few months.
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Speaking to the Bolton News about the possibility of having to deal with another game due to progressing in the cup, the Wanderers boss said: “We’ve got a lot of games left in what will be a short season for us but if we get through in the FA Cup it’s a blessing, it’s not a hindrance to play more football games.
“I don’t mind if we’re heading into the last two months of the season with a healthy squad playing Saturday-Tuesday, Saturday-Tuesday. I think it will give us a real drive.
“We want to be involved in the FA Cup for as long as we possibly can.”
Even so, it seems Hill will not be taking too many risks with his selections against Plymouth, as he continued: “One or two potentially by MK Dons (in the league a week on Saturday) but bearing in mind it’s the FA Cup week I’d be daft to rush players back. It’s a big tournament but three points is more important to those players at this stage of the season.
“It doesn’t mean we have a burning desire to go out at all – we want to beat Plymouth.
“But I will deal with what I have available at this moment in time and then revisit things Monday or Tuesday with an eye on the MK Dons game.”
Bolton – who are still rooted to the foot of the third-tier standings following their 12 point deduction for entering administration earlier this year – go into the game off the back of three straight wins in all competitions.
I can understand Hill’s approach here.
Right now, Bolton do not exactly have a big enough squad to be able to rotate for cup games such as this one, so picking up the win could be even more important than usual.
A victory over Argyle would help to maintain the momentum Wanderers have built over the past few games, and they will not want to lose any of that here, when you consider how big a challenge they are currently facing in the league.
Indeed, with games against three sides hovering around the relegation zone in League One in the shape of MK Dons, Accrington and Wimbledon to come after this, it does seem to be the perfect opportunity to really push on start picking up some points that could start to see them make in-roads into those sides ahead of them in table.