Bolton Wanderers Handed Promotion Boost Ahead Of Key Fixture

Bolton Wanderers have been buoyed by the news that goalkeeper Nathan Baxter is set to return to the squad after a lengthy injury lay-off, according to journalist Alan Nixon.

The 25-year-old joined the Trotters last summer after seeing his contract expire at Premier League giants Chelsea. He instantly tied down a regular starting berth in Ian Evatt’s side and was a key part of the team which has seen them challenge for automatic promotion from League One.

He picked up an injury in the 1-1 draw with Barnsley in February, which was later revealed to be ligament damage to his wrist. Bolton were in a rich vein of form prior to this setback, winning six games from eight whilst conceding just five goals.

Stand-in goalkeeper Joel Coleman has provided cover over the past few weeks, although form has dipped. Winning just three of the last 11 outings, the 28-year-old has shipped 16 goals as Derby have taken the advantage in second place. The Rams have opened a four-point gap over their nearest promotion rivals, although did lose 1-0 at Northampton Town at the weekend.

Evatt’s team travel to play-off hopefuls Stevenage on Good Friday as the look to return to winning ways. They were beaten by Derby last time out, although will be fresh after having last weekend off due to international call-ups.

According to Nixon, Baxter is set to return to training and could join up with the squad ahead of the trip to Hertfordshire. This coincides with the manager’s initial assessment of the injury. Speaking at the end of last month, the 42-year-old said:

“The pot has come off and the specialist has basically advised him to spend another two to three weeks in a splint to increase the healing. There are signs of healing there, which is a positive, but it hasn’t healed completely yet and Nathan wants to give himself the best chance he can to heal.

“The next marker for us is probably the international break now.”

Following Stevenage, Bolton host Reading on Easter Monday. Meanwhile, Derby welcome Blackpool to Pride Park before travelling to league leaders Portsmouth on Tuesday night.

Writer’s View

Some may say it’s a coincidence that the Trotters’ form has dipped since Baxter picked up his wrist injury. However, the ex-Chelsea man has performed admirably since coming in last summer. He had big boots to fill following James Trafford’s move to Burnley, via a return to Manchester City, last summer, but few can deny he has been largely excellent.

The 25-year-old’s return to the team will provide a huge boost to Ian Evatt as he looks to close the gap on Derby above them. Bolton do possess a game in hand, but they are already relying on slip-ups and cannot afford any of their own. An assured pair of hands between the sticks will certainly aid that.

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