Bolton frets over key duo's fitness for Portsmouth clash.
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Bolton frets over key duo’s fitness for Portsmouth clash.

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Bolton are concerned about the fitness of two important players ahead of Pompey’s trip to the Toughsheet Community Stadium on Saturday.

Ricardo Santos, the defensive lynchpin, and midfield ‘quarterback’ Josh Sheehan are both doubts for the match, which may have a significant impact on both teams’ promotion hopes. That has left Trotters manager Ian Evatt ‘praying to the stars’ in the hope that he will not have to rearrange his squad for such an important encounter.

Much is riding on the game, with Pompey potentially securing promotion and the League One title if they beat third-placed Bolton at home – but that relies on whether Derby’s nearest competitors drop points at Wycombe on Wednesday. Anything else than a win on Saturday will have an influence on their ability to leapfrog the Rams and earn the second automatic promotion spot with only three games left. Derby are presently one point ahead.

Rookie Pompey striker Kusini Yengi had a tremendous success against Santos, who is regarded as one of the best defenders in the third division, when the two sides played at Fratton Park in December, with Pompey winning 2-0. Despite this, the massive centre-back remains an important part of the Bolton machine, having made 32 league appearances this season. However, he is doubtful ahead of the weekend after exacerbating a calf ailment he has been dealing with since the end of January.

Santos suffered the setback during the Trotters’ last victory over Bristol Rovers. He finished the game at Memorial Stadium but is currently seeking treatment for his injuries ahead of the Blues’ trip to the northwest.

Sheehan’s situation is similar, as he was replaced on 77 minutes versus Rovers due to a hamstring injury. It’s been a concern for the 29-year-old in recent weeks, stopping him from playing the full 90 minutes in each of Bolton’s last three games. The Welshman is a contender for the Trotters’ player of the season award, but injuries could prevent him from securing that distinction.

If both players’ attempts to return to fitness fail, Bolton has choices. However, both Caleb Taylor and Aaron Morley have limited playing action under their belts ahead of such a crucial encounter. That’s perhaps why Evatt prayed for luck at Rovers’ final whistle on Saturday.

He told the Bolton News: ‘There are one or two concerns about injuries, Rico’s calf and Josh’s hamstring. We’ll have to see how they are.

“All we can do is pray to the stars and cross our fingers that the news is not bad.”

Bolton welcomed back goalkeeper Nathan Baxter from a wrist injury for the game in Bristol, while Randall Williams appeared off the bench for the first time since mid-March. Taylor’s cameo also marked his first appearance since sustaining ankle ligament damage in February.

Dion Charles and Gethan Jones are still injured, although they are close to returning and might face Pompey.

The table-topping Blues will undoubtedly be missing Regan Poole, Alex Robertson, Tom McIntyre, Terry Devlin, Joe Morrell, and Anthony Scully for the encounter.

 

 

 

 

 

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