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Bolton Wanderers v Rotherham United - Sky Bet League One

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Interview: Bolton News writer Marc Iles says “there will be goals” between Sunderland & Bolton!

Ahead of Sunderland’s clash with Bolton at the Stadium of Light today, we spoke to The Bolton News writer Marc Iles to see how Ian Evatt’s side have performed since their promotion from League Two.

Photo by Andrew Kearns - CameraSport via Getty Images

Matthew Crichton: Bolton have started the season very well, losing just two of your first eight matches back in League One, what are your expectations this season?

Marc Iles: If you ask Ian Evatt, he wants promotion, and many of his players are equally ambitious.

I’m more of a pragmatic type and I think that if Bolton can be there or thereabouts in the play-off picture in the run-in, then they will have had a terrific season.

Considering how far the club has come in the last couple of years, I don’t think anyone would begrudge a year of stability.

MC: Ian Evatt has brought a lively style of football to the club, after a sticky opening spell has he proved to supporters that he is the right man to try and take the club back to higher leagues?

MI: That first few months was tough. In fact, a week into February, Bolton were still 20th in League Two - but to give Ian Evatt credit, he always maintained a promotion push could be salvaged.

He’s a young manager, still learning on the job. The football is terrific to watch at times and there is a good feeling around the club. I don’t think many people are complaining.

MC: Bolton have scored 14 goals whilst conceding 12 so far, is it fair to say your matches are often fairly open and end to end?

MI: The first half against Ipswich felt like I’d sat on the Sky Q remote and it had started to fast forward. You never quite know what you are going to get with Bolton - but there is rarely a dull moment.

Ipswich Town v Bolton Wanderers - Sky Bet League One
Ian Evatt won the National League with Barrow before he was appointed as Bolton’s manager.
Photo by Andrew Kearns - CameraSport via Getty Images

MC: The club signed nine new players in the summer, who has impressed you the most and why?

MI: Very impressed with Josh Sheehan so far. Proper footballer, good on the ball, range of passing to die for, and popped a world class free kick into the top corner on his debut.

Rumour has it, Gareth Bale has been asking for pointers on international duty with Wales.

MC: One of those signings was ex-Sunderland academy goalkeeper Joel Dixon, how is he coping at League One level?

MI: I think a lot of us expected him to play understudy to Matt Gilks this season but he has come in and made the position his own. Great distribution, which is a bonus in a side that plays out from the back. I also heard somewhere he wanted to be a train driver. Go figure.

MC: Another ex-Sunderland player Bolton signed was Declan John, who famously never made an appearance for the club. Has he managed to get his career back on track?

MI: Dec was massive in the promotion campaign. He has had a couple of illness and injury issues this season but looks like he has timed his return for the Stadium of Light.

Class act when he gets going. Quite why he never got a look in at Swansea or Sunderland I have got no idea at all.

Bolton Wanderers v Oxford United - Sky Bet League One
Declan John failed to make an appearance for Sunderland during a loan spell in 2020 under Phil Parkinson.
Photo by Dave Howarth - CameraSport via Getty Images

MC: Bolton went through a horrendous period that saw your club drop to League Two. Financially are things now stabilized and is the club in a more healthy and safe position?

MI: Absolutely - the club is owned by good people with good intentions. They want to make it sustainable, which is not an easy thing to accomplish in football.

Bolton Wanderers, a founder member of the Football League, nearly went bust because of bad ownership. It cannot be allowed to happen again.

MC: Who are the eleven Bolton players that you expect Evatt to select against Sunderland?

MI: Dixon; Jones, Santos, Johnston, John; Williams, Sheehan, Isgrove, Sarcevic, Afolayan; Doyle.

MC: Lastly, Sunderland failed to beat Bolton across two games in the 19/20 season - what is your honest prediction of the final score?

MI: There will be goals... Going for two each.


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