Shola keen to fire Bolton to safety

Shola Ameobi
Shola Ameobi
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Bolton have turned to Shola Ameobi as they look for goals to fire them out of trouble at the foot of the Championship.

The Trotters, who come to Deepdale this weekend, currently prop the division up with only one win to their name this season.

With goals in short supply, they signed Ameobi ahead of last Saturday’s home clash with Leeds United.

And within a few minutes of coming off the bench to replace a concussed Gary Madine, the ex-Newcastle man had found the net.

It was not enough to earn Wanderers victory though, with Leeds equalising late in the game.

Ameobi, 34, had been without a club since being released by Crystal Palace at the end of last season.

There had been talk of a switch to Bolton earlier in the season but it did not materialise.

Neither, must it be said, did moves to Huddersfield, Wolves, Sheffield Wednesday and Charlton who all had a look at him.

Ameobi said: “I’ve still got a few years left in me, I feel.

“I know I’m getting on in years but I keep myself really fit. It’s more about how you keep your body and do the right things.

“I have still got the quality to play in this league.

“It was important that I got a club that felt the right fit for me. I didn’t want to just play for any club.

“I wanted a club that would fit where I am in my career and Bolton does that for me.

“I always had faith that I’d find a new club.

“As a player I think you know when it’s time to hang up your boots and that’s certainly never been the case for me. I never thought I’d fail to find a team.

“I’m indebted to Bolton because not having a club and training on your own for three or four months is tough.

“But the fact I have done it tells you that I want to play.”

Bolton boss Neil Lennon had initially turned down the chance to sign Ameobi, thinking he was too similar to his other strikers Madine and Emile Heskey.

He said: “We didn’t have many options but it was finances as well – there was a re-think on both sides and he’s been a breath of fresh air.

“I think he’s got a lot to offer, he’s younger than Heskey and Gudjohnsen who we signed last year; mind you, everyone is younger than Heskey and Gudjohnsen.

“I think there’s plenty of football in him and we need to keep him fit.

“He’ll get better and stronger through the games and he’s a good personality as well.”

Ameobi could well start on Saturday in place of Madine.

Another new boy likely to be in the squad if Luke Brattan, the midfielder having joined on loan until January from Manchester City.

Brattan is new at City, the Australian having signed for them this week before being loaned out straight away.

Bolton’s trip to Deepdale is their first since New Year’s Day 2001.

At the end of that season, they beat Preston 3-0 in the play-off final at the Millennium Stadium to clinch a place in the Premier League.

They stayed in the top flight until May 2012, it being PNE’s return to the Championship which sees this derby rivalry re-ignited after a 15-year pause.

Lennon believes his side are playing better than one at the foot of the table, however he knows that it is only results which will get them moving up the table.

The Irishman, who took the Bolton job just over a 12 months ago, said: “We aren’t playing like a side at the bottom of the league right now.

“Against Leeds, the game was there for us to win, so it was a little frustrating.

“The Leeds game was a point in our favour and we move on.

“We know we have to start winning games and turning draws into wins.”

With costs being cut at Bolton, Lennon has been working on a tight budget these last months.

He has relied extensively on the free transfer and loan market to shape his squad.

Goalkeeper Ben Amos came in on a free from Manchester United, as did former Blackpool and Fleetwood man Stephen Dobbie.

Prince-Desire Gouano, Wellington Silva and Derik Osede provide a foreign feel to the Wanderers squad.

Defender Prince, signed from Portugese side Rio Ave, is suspended for the Preston clash having been sent-off against Leeds.

Derik joined from Real Madrid in the summer, with Wellington being signed on loan from Arsenal.

However, a torn hamstring is currently keeping Brazilian striker Wellington on the sidelines.

meet the boss

Earlier this month, Neil Lennon celebrated his first anniversary in charge of Bolton Wanderers. Prior to that, the former Northern Ireland international had been manager of Celtic for four years. Lennon succeeded Dougie Freedman at the Macron Stadium, his first few months at the helm seeing Bolton climb the table out of relegation trouble and take Liverpool to a replay in the FA Cup fourth round. As a player, Lennon served Manchester City, Crewe, Leicester, Celtic, Nottingham Forest and Wycombe Wanderers.

MEET the ref

Taking charge of PNE’s clash with Bolton is Dean Whitestone. The Northants official was last at Deepdale in March for North End’s 2-2 draw with Doncaster. This will be Mr Whitestone’s 15th game of the season, with him showing 40 yellows and two reds to date.