Keith Andrews believes Bolton Wanderers are fully prepared ahead of this Saturday’s npower Championship opener against Burnley at Turf Moor.
The Republic of Ireland midfielder, who joined the club this summer as a free agent after his contract at West Bromwich Albion expired, insists that manager Owen Coyle has assembled a very capable squad and that promotion back to the Premier League is the number one priority this season.
“I think aiming for anything other than promotion would be ridiculous with the squad that we have,” he said.
“Obviously, we have been relegated and we have lost a few players, but the manager has got a fantastic squad together and everybody is fighting for places. There is an abundance of talent within the squad and getting back to top flight at the first attempt is certainly what we have to be aiming for.
“I think anyone who has watched all our games in pre-season has seen that we have certainly cranked it up in the last couple of weeks.
“Our fitness levels are right up there and if we can keep our shape and organisation right, frustrate teams off the ball, ensure we are very hard to beat and keep clean sheets, we will have a great chance and we are very confident ahead of the Burnley game.”
Andrews also believes that Wanderers’ promotion prospects are boosted all the more by the attacking players at Owen Coyle’s disposal and that this will give the Trotters an edge over the course of the season.
“I think with the players we have in the team – the offensive players, the wingers, the attacking midfielders and the forwards – we will definitely create plenty of chances and score goals,” Andrews added.
“The addition of Benik Afobe from Arsenal is a great signing and he showed just what he is capable of against Tranmere Rovers, whilst Marvin Sordell looks a fantastic player having retuned from the Olympics.
“You add those two players to the skipper (Kevin Davies) and David Ngog up front – you are not going to get four better strikers in the Championship.”
The former Wolves skipper, who featured in Friday’s 2-2 draw against Barcelona B at the Reebok, feels that Wanderers have had a good pre-season and that the result on Friday was a positive one.
“It is something we have been working on in terms of as pre-season has gone on we have played against better opposition and we have been very conscientious that we wanted to get our team shape right,” he explained.
“There are obviously new players in the team. It is a new-look team this year compared to last so we need to learn about each other. I think as the weeks have gone on, and especially the last week to two, the team shape and overall organisation has been very good. Overall, I thought Friday’s performance was very pleasing and I am happy with how the game went.
“It was a different test, we were playing a team that could dominate possession and frustrate you because you are not getting the ball as much as you would like.
“You cannot really replicate competitive games, but I think we’ve done as well as we could in pre-season in terms of the opposition we’ve faced.”
Despite featuring for his country in the European Championships in Poland and Ukraine this summer, the 31-year-old is feeling physically brilliant ahead of Saturday and is very much enjoying life at the club.
“I feel very good,” he added. “I had my rest in the summer, I came back and I have played a lot of minutes in pre-season. In the main we all feel very good and very sharp. The unity is there and that’s the most important thing.
“I have been made to feel very welcome by everybody since joining the club – the players, staff, people behind the scenes, coaching staff, everybody. It is a really nice club. The fans were fantastic against Barcelona as well and I’m certainly enjoying it.”
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