Millwall are back in action following the international break with two successive Sky Bet Championship matches at The Den, as Neil Harris’ side look to steer clear of the drop zone.
The first outfit looking to stand in their way will be Phil Parkinson’s Bolton Wanderers, who make the trip to SE16 level on points with The Lions.
The Trotters are in a frustrating spell of form going into the game, having won just one of their last 13 League clashes – scoring just two goals in their last 10. The Lions will be looking to take advantage of Bolton’s barren run by returning to winning ways after two straight away defeats – the second of which an agonising late loss at table-toppers Norwich City in a seven-goal encounter. Millwall’s last three games at The Den, however, have all resulted in three points – something Harris will be adamant to continue.
Bolton Wanderers were one of the dozen founder members of the Football League, and have subsequently competed in the English Leagues since 1888. The Greater Manchester outfit have spent over 100 years of their time in the top two tiers, peaking in their early years with numerous top-three finishes in the First Division, and more recently in their era under Sam Allardyce with two appearances in European football. The club hold a decorated history, lifting four FA Cups, three Second Division championships amongst seven promotions, one Charity Shield and also reaching two League Cup Finals. The club reached the FA Cup Semi-Finals in 2011, a year before their Premier League spell ended. After a bottom-place finish in 2015/16, the club dropped into League One, before instantly returning and staying afloat in dramatic circumstances on the final day of last season.
Ones to Watch
David Wheater (#31) is among Bolton’s longest-serving players, arriving at the University of Bolton Stadium in 2011 from hometown club Middlesbrough. Skipper of the side and a natural leader from the back, Wheater has been a regular performer for years and is still only 31 despite making the Boro’ first team back in 2004. Earning plaudits as a Premier League centre-half in 2007/08 under Gareth Southgate’s reign, Wheater went on to become captain at the Riverside aged just 22 following the club’s relegation. The towering defender joined Bolton midway through the 2010/11 campaign and has represented the club in the each of the top three tiers in English football – making the PFA Team of the Year for League One two years ago in the side promoted alongside Millwall. Wheater has earned several England call-ups, but has not been capped for The Three Lions.
Joe Williams (#21) was brought to the club on loan in the summer from Everton, with whom he has developed through the ranks since the age of seven. A tough-tackling and energetic midfielder who operates well in a deep role, Williams provides valuable cover for the defence and has been considered a popular player with his work-rate and combative style. The 21-year-old is yet to make an Everton first-team appearance, although has been involved in the matchday squad in European matches for The Toffees. Williams gained valuable senior experience in Championship football last season with Barnsley, standing out in a frustrating season for the relegated side at Oakwell and scoring a Goal of the Season contender at Burton Albion with a stunning long-range volley. Former England U20 international Williams will be a key asset for Bolton this season, and will be looking to improve on his luck at The Den after being sent off on his last visit in January’s FA Cup victory for The Lions over Barnsley.
Erhun Oztumer (#7) is no stranger to South-East London, having progressed through the ranks of hometown club Charlton Athletic, then representing our neighbours Fisher Athletic along with Dulwich Hamlet and playing a spell in Turkey on his journey into the professional game. The midfielder’s attacking ability was clear during his time at Dulwich, scoring over 60 goals in two seasons before earning a transfer to Peterborough United in 2014. Two years in East Anglia were followed by a move to Walsall, where Oztumer spent both of his seasons in the PFA League One Team of the Year and earning his Championship move in the summer. The diminutive playmaker has netted over 100 career goals from midfield and, at 27, is enjoying an upward curve in his career.
Josh Magennis (#28) has appeared in more games than any other Bolton player this term, playing some part in each of The Trotters’ 17 matches this season, and providing over a third of the team’s goal return with four of Bolton’s 11 Championship strikes. The 28-year-old striker has spent the majority of his senior career in Scotland, establishing himself with the likes of Aberdeen where he spent four years, and two years at Kilmarnock. Formerly a goalkeeper in his academy days, Magennis converted to a front man with Cardiff City as a youngster and in 2016 made the move south from Kilmarnock to join Charlton Athletic, scoring 20 League goals in two seasons. Recruited by Parkinson in the summer, Magennis is relied upon to grab the required goals to lift the side out of the relegation places. The forward has played at senior level for Northern Ireland since 2010, earning over 40 caps and featuring at Euro 2016.
In the Dugout
Phil Parkinson has impressed at various levels of the EFL, joining Bolton Wanderers in 2016 after five successful years at the helm of Bradford City. Parkinson’s playing career as a central midfielder began at Southampton, embarking on lengthy spells with Bury and Reading – the latter gaining him legend status – until hanging up his boots in 2003 to take on his first management role with Colchester United. The 50-year-old won a shock promotion to the Championship in 2006 with the Essex club before joining Charlton Athletic via a brief stint with Hull City. Parkinson reached the League One play-offs with The Addicks before joining Bradford, guiding them to the League Cup Final in 2013 – eliminating Arsenal and Aston Villa in the process – as well as producing an iconic 4-2 comeback victory away at Chelsea in the FA Cup in 2015, eventually reaching the last eight. Earning promotion to League One and denied a Play-Off Final spot by Millwall in 2016, Parkinson left for Bolton, where his side salvaged their Championship safety on the final day of last season with two late goals to beat Nottingham Forest.