x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Bolton have a chance to show they can hold their own

Owen Coyle, the Bolton Wanderers manager, wants his side to show they can mix it with the rich and famous on a consistent basis.

Owen Coyle, the Bolton manager, hopes to get the better of Roberto Mancini today. 

Laurence Griffiths / Getty Images
Owen Coyle, the Bolton manager, hopes to get the better of Roberto Mancini today. Laurence Griffiths / Getty Images

Owen Coyle, the Bolton Wanderers manager, wants his side to show they can mix it with the rich and famous on a consistent basis.

Next up today is a visit to Manchester City, a club desperate to win a place in the Champions League next season after serious investment in their squad.

However, Bolton have taken 11 points from a possible 15 through November and Coyle insists they kick on. He said: "Any team that was to win at City would send out a big signal as it is a tough place to go. But we are looking forward to playing against some of the best players in world football.

"That is a great opportunity for my players to show what they are about. That is what I have told them to do.

"We have to stand toe-to-toe with them and say 'we might be Bolton, a far smaller club, but we can play a little bit as well'."

Coyle knows his defenders will have to be at their best as Carlos Tevez is due to return after being rested when City beat Salzburg in the Europa League.

The Argentina striker looks set to link up again with Mario Balotelli, who scored a brace in midweek, his fifth goal in four starts.

Coyle said: "Balotelli looks real natural finisher. Give him a sight of goal and he is going to put it in the back of the net. He will punish you.

"He is a young player, who is going to grow. There is no doubt Tevez and [Emmanuel] Adebayor are going to improve Balotelli working with him on a daily basis.

"Tevez is a world-class player but just one of a number of threats City have. We will be very respectful but we will look to concentrate on what we can do. We have good players as well and ones who can cause them problems."

Mark Davies could retain his place in the Bolton team, especially if Stuart Holden fails to recover from a thigh strain. The former Wolverhampton Wanderers midfielder scored a superb equaliser against Blackpool after making his first start of the season.

Coyle was impressed by the way Davies took his chance and said: "Mark has picked up injuries along the way that have held him back.

"Last season he gave one of the best midfield performances I have seen from any player in any team in the league against Arsenal at the Emirates before he was injured and had to go off.

"From that point, he was stop-start until the end of the season. He came pre-season and looked terrific. But Fabrice Muamba and Stuart Holden were in possession of the midfield slots and playing well.

"Mark was probably frustrated. Last week he had the opportunity with Holden injured and I thought he was the best player on the park. He is only a young kid and I have very high hopes for him."