Preview: Crewe v Bolton
The league campaign got underway on Sunday, but before we can even have as much as a second game, attention turns to the first cup competition of the season, as we face a Carabao Cup (League Cup for the traditionalists) tie at League 2 side Crewe. While we are favourites, the last couple of seasons have seen us fall at the first hurdle to lower division opposition, Burton scoring a late winner in 2015 at the Macron, before an extra time defeat at Blackpool last season. This is a game that Phil Parkinson, fresh of agreeing a new contract, will use to give squad members a chance.
"We`re looking forward to a cup competition which gives us an opportunity to get some players minutes as well; Adam Armstrong, Aaron Wilbraham, certainly with Aaron who hasn`t played in pre-season. We`re looking forward to putting a good performance in and getting through."
Phil Parkinson speaking to the club`s in-house media, effectively declaring he won`t put out a full strength side.
"It doesn`t matter if Phil makes any changes to his team because they have an abundance of good players in the squad. We have watched them and they are a good side. They may have had a couple of players injured on Sunday, but they can cope with that."
Crewe boss David Artell, speaking to their official website.
Crewe Alexandra Team News:
Crewe are likely to name a similar side to the one which drew with Mansfield on Saturday. George Ray, James Jones and Jordan Bowery are all missing through injury. Zoumana Bakayogo in at full-back is one player who could come in as he nears a return to fitness.
Player to watch: George Cooper
A club famed for bringing through young players, Cooper is yet another example. The winger is 20 years of age yet has nearly notched up 100 league appearances for Crewe. He assisted both goals on Saturday, the second with an excellent cross.
Bolton Wanderers Team News:
Bolton will make a number of changes as they did in the early rounds of cup competitions last season. David Wheater will sit out the next few games due to the back injury which affected his performance on Sunday, as of course will Josh Vela, who will be out for some time with the ankle injury, plus we knew about Sammy Ameobi. Ben Alnwick will almost certainly start in goal, with Will Buckley, Aaron Wilbraham and Adam Armstrong all set to be involved. Filipe Morais could well be in the squad.
Player to watch: Aaron Wilbraham
This is probably a big game for anybody who gets a chance to impress Parkinson, but for Wilbraham it`s also a chance to finally get some time on the pitch. He didn`t get on against Leeds, and it will be the first test of whether he can step in to fill the 'Madine role` as and when required.
Match Facts & Stats
Both teams failed to win on the opening weekend of the season. Crewe drew 2-2 with Mansfield, while we of course lost 3-2 to Leeds.
Bolton have been knocked out of the League Cup in round 1 by lower division opposition in each of the last two seasons. The last time they progressed was in 2014, where they made it through to round three before falling to Chelsea. Who did we play in the second round that season? Of course - Crewe Alexandra.
That was our last meeting with the Railwaymen. The tie went to extra time. Jermaine Beckford looked to have scored a 92nd minute winner in normal time, before Marcus Haber equalised in the 98th. Beckford scored in the second period of extra time to secure a 3-2 win and a trip to Stamford Bridge.
With the anticipated changes it could prove to be a banana skin, but like three years ago, I think we should end up progressing. A 2-1 win for Bolton in normal time.
Two more games on the road - we travel to Millwall for our first league away day on Saturday, before a trip to St Andrews to take on Birmingham City next Tuesday.