COYLE: WE MUST WIN GAMES IN HAND
Bolton manager Owen Coyle has told his side they must cash in their games in hand to avoid following Wolves into the npower Championship.
Wolves became the first side to lose their Barclays Premier League status after going down 2-0 to Manchester City on Sunday, and the emotional scenes that accompanied their relegation will have weighed heavily on the teams still battling the drop.
Bolton are currently second bottom and four points from safety, but they have five games still to play, while Blackburn, Wigan and QPR all have just three more fixtures.
Aston Villa, who are also not clear of danger in 15th, are first up on Tuesday night and Coyle knows it is now or never time.
"Wolves are a fantastic club but sometimes things go against you for whatever reason," he said.
"Nobody wants to see what happened to Wolves happen to their own club and if that's an added incentive for us then all well and good.
"For our own part, we have to make sure we are ready to give five big performances and pick up enough points to stay in the league.
"Everyone knows it is the business end of the season. We have five games as opposed to everyone else's three but one or two of them have picked up points to get them in the bag (already).
"There are six points available from the games in hand. If you told me we'd get six points from those games, you'd do somersaults to get them. We'd have loved to have those points in the bag, but we have the opportunity and we have to maximise that opportunity.
"The bottom line is that we decide our own fate."
Coyle has watched each of his relegation rivals pick up unexpected results in recent weeks, with Wigan conjuring some stunning victories, QPR beating Tottenham and Blackburn ending a five-game losing streak to see off Norwich.
Yet Coyle believes his side are in good enough form to get enough positive results of their own between now and the end of the campaign.
A three-match winning run in March was followed by consecutive defeats, before a battling point at home to Swansea at the weekend.
"We're not a team that has been struggling for form," he said.
"We have 10 points from the last 18 and if we can return that in our last five games that's enough to stay in the Premier League.
"If we do that then the whole picture changes very quickly.
"Regardless of the people we have missing, we have enough quality to stay in the league."
Coyle is sweating over the fitness of Mark Davies as he desperately attempts to keep his threadbare midfield functioning.
A horrendous run of problems - starting in pre-season when Lee Chung-yong and Stuart Holden suffered long-term injuries and including Fabrice Muamba's cardiac arrest on the field against Tottenham - have left Bolton desperately short in the engine room.
Davies sustained a knock against Swansea and did not train on Monday, but Coyle is hoping he can take on Villa.
If not, 18-year-old Josh Vela could be pressed into action after making a late debut last time out.
"We're decimated in numbers again tomorrow night," said Coyle.
"I think I'm left with just Nigel Reo-Coker of my senior midfielders having had eight at the start of the season: Lee, Holden, Sean Davis, Ricardo Gardner, Muamba, Darren Pratley..now there's Nigel and Mark Davies, possibly.
"And we have young Josh Vela, who's going to be a top, top player so we'll patch it up and look to do our very best to get the points available to us."
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