Owen Coyle is confident that the Bolton defence is going to be well marshalled with David Wheater in it.
Bolton manager Coyle says Wheater is ready to step in
Owen Coyle believes David Wheater will be a more than able replacement in the Bolton Wanderers defence after confirming that Zat Knight did suffer knee ligament damage in Sunday's win over Everton.
The 30-year-old sustained the damage to his right leg in a last-ditch tackle on Victor Anichebe in the first half of the 2-0 victory and Coyle confirmed yesterday he expects Knight to be missing for between four and six weeks.
The Wanderers manager said: "It's not as severe as we first thought but certainly bad enough to keep him out for a period of time. There's severe swelling in the area so I think we'll know better in seven to 10 days when that goes down.
"It's a terrible loss, first and foremost for Zat, because he's played every game for me since I came to the football club over a year ago."
The major consolation for Coyle is he has a ready-made replacement in Wheater, who joined last month from Middlesbrough.
"When somebody receives an injury, it opens the door for someone else," Coyle said. "David's stepped into the breach and he's showed the quality we believe he has. That's why we brought him to the football club."
Wheater turned 24 yesterday and, like Gary Cahill, his new centre-back partner, is considered one of England's most promising defenders.
Coyle added: "They have tremendous mobility, they have real desire, they're very young and they'll continue to get better.
"We were excited with the signing of David Wheater but he knew, given the partnership that Gary Cahill and Zat Knight had, that he was going to have to be patient and bide his time until he got his opportunity."
Wheater will get his chance to impress from the start tonight as Bolton travel to Premier League rivals Wigan Athletic for an FA Cup fourth-round replay, with the winners of the tie facing Fulham away in the last 16.
Daniel Sturridge, the on loan striker from Chelsea who has scored three times since arriving at Bolton, is cup-tied and will play no part in proceedings at the DW Stadium tonight.
Coyle hinted that he was likely to make a number of changes to his team for tonight's game, grateful that a larger squad allowed him to bring in some fresh faces.
"We're still not blessed with huge numbers but we have added real competition to the team," he said.
"We want to win this FA Cup tie at Wigan, we want to progress, but I envisage we'll make six changes from the team that started against Everton.
"If I said a few weeks ago that we were going to make six changes, I think I'd have been left with eight players. These are real quality players and it's an opportunity for them to show that."
Coyle's opposite number Roberto Martinez, the Wigan manager, is also planning to make a number of changes tonight, but he said no disrespect was intended to the FA Cup.
"You have to be realistic as you cannot expect 11 players to play in both competitions throughout the campaign," he said.
"It will be very risky so it is vital we share the efforts with the squad."