A look ahead to the season's opener against local rivals Burnley at Turf Moor
Burnley v Bolton Wanderers
Saturday 18 August
Turf Moor, Kick-Off 3pm
Bolton Wanderers’ quest to achieve promotion back to the Premier League finally gets underway on Saturday against Lancashire neighbours Burnley at Turf Moor.
In what promises to be an entertaining encounter and is arguably the tie of the first weekend in the npower Championship, Owen Coyle and his backroom team return to face his former club, along with ex-Clarets Tyrone Mears and Chris Eagles.
Much like Wanderers, the Clarets also have a new-look team this season with the club having lost and gained players over the summer period.
The most high profile departure from Turf Moor was striker Jay Rodriguez, who signed for newly-promoted Premier League side Southampton on a four-year contract for a reported club record fee of around £7 million.
Their current manager, Eddie Howe, took charge in January 2011 after Brian Laws was sacked a month previously. Since his appointment, he has guided them to ninth and 13th placed finishes respectively - something he will be determined to improve on this season.
Prior to being appointed at Burnley, Howe was manager of Bournemouth from 2009 until leaving for Turf Moor. In his time at Dean Court, he brought the club out of the relegation zone despite a 17-point deficit and the following year led them to promotion to League One following two years in the fourth tier of English football.
Howe also had two spells at the Cherries as a player from 1994-2002 and 2004-2007 before retiring due to an ongoing knee injury, aged 29.
Burnley’s pre-season programme saw them win four and lose only once. They began with 4-1 and 1-0 wins over Altrincham and Bury respectively, and following on beat Bath City 3-1 and Cheltenham Town 4-0. The only defeat came in their final pre-season fixture when they went down 3-1 at Rochdale.
As for Wanderers, defender Zat Knight, who signed two-year deal in the summer, is in confident mood ahead of the derby and insists all the players are looking forward to the season opener.
“It’s been a long pre-season and a good pre-season,” said the 32-year-old. “We’ve come out of it with no major injuries and now we can put all this practice and tactics into use.
“It’s going to be tough on Saturday, for more reasons than one. I’m looking forward to it and so are the boys as well.
“The boys are going to be up for it, especially Tyrone Mears and Chris Eagles who are going back to their old grounds. It’s a fantastic game first up, one that will be a battle.
“I believe that we can come out on top and that can hopefully lead us into two good home games against Derby County and Nottingham Forest.”
Tickets for Saturday’s game have now completely sold out, meaning Wanderers will be taking 3,600 fans to Turf Moor.
However, fans can still follow every kick on Wanderers Player – click here for more information.