Sunderland manager Lee Johnson has backed Bolton Wanderers to be competing for a place in the League One play-off places by Christmas.
Johnson saw his Black Cats side claim a 1-0 win over the Trotters at the Stadium of Light on Saturday, thanks to a third goal of the season from Carl Winchester.
But having gone in front with 17 minutes on the clock, Sunderland were forced to ride out plenty of pressure from their visitors in order to claim the three points, and retain their place in League One’s automatic promotion places.
Now it seems that Johnson is confident that Bolton will also be in that battle for promotion by Christmas, despite the fact they only won promotion back to the third-tier from League Two last season.
Giving his verdict on Bolton after the match, Johnson was quoted by The Chronicle as saying: “I was really pleased with the three points.
“It was a big three points because I think Bolton will take a lot of points off a lot of teams and I expect them to be up there and by Christmas I think you will see them pretty much rooted in the top six.
“It’s definitely fair to say it was a really tough game – we knew it would be even before the match.
“With Sunderland rose-tinted glasses on, I suppose I’d say we should have killed them off because we had three or four wonderful opportunities created by some flowing football – the [Alex] Pritchard chance stands out at the start of the second half.
“But Bolton had good chances as well and probably on expected goals or opportunity-wise, it could have been 4-3 either way.”
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Following that defeat to Sunderland, Bolton currently sit ninth in the League One table, two points adrift of the top six ahead of their trip to The Valley to face Charlton Athletic on Tuesday night.
This does feel like a fair assessment for Johnson to make on Bolton’s promotion prospects.
Wanderers were impressive with their business in the summer transfer window, putting together a side you feel ought to be capable of causing problems for many in League One at the very least.
Indeed, that is something they have backed up on the pitch this season, putting themselves within touching distance of the top six already, and challenging a number of sides in the division.
As a result, the more they adapt to that level as the campaign goes on, the less surprising you feel it will be if Johnson’s prediction here, is proven to be accurate.