Darren Pratley speaks about his return to the first team fold
Darren Pratley has seen notable improvements in the team’s resilience since the arrival of new boss Dougie Freedman, which culminated in the Whites securing their first-clean sheet since August against Leicester City on Tuesday night.
A string of impressive saves from Adam Bogdan, and some excellent defending in front of goal, ensured the scores remained goalless against the fifth-placed Foxes in front of a vocal home crowd at the Reebok.
Pratley, who started his second successive game under Freedman, has been boosted by his recall to the first team and believes Wanderers can now build on the solid defensive structure laid out by the new management team.
Speaking after Bolton’s goalless draw against Leicester, Pratley said: “When the new manager came in I could see straight away why Crystal Palace are where they are in the league.
“The training has been high-tempo and everyone knows what their jobs are. He has come in from his first job at Palace and his technical awareness has been spot on. Alongside Lennie Lawrence it has made the team better structurally.
“We are now more solid. We have played two of the top four teams and got four points, I think a couple of weeks ago we would have ended up losing that game. That’s no disrespect to anyone, but we have got more of a solid structure now.”
Pratley is now aiming to maintain his position within Freedman’s starting line-up, and hopes he can help his side produce another good performance when they travel to Bloomfield Road on Saturday.
“I didn’t really play as much as I would have liked, but now the new manager has come in and given me the opportunity,” added the former Swansea and Brentford man. “I have worked my way back to match fitness and I am enjoying playing.
“In that position, most of the time as an attacking midfielder people will look at the goals, and I would like to add more to my game.
“I think that a lot of my work does go unnoticed, for example the tracking back and keeping the holding midfielder quiet. All I can do is just carry on working hard and if the manager and my team-mates are happy then I am happy.
“I have played against Blackpool before and it will be another tough game as Bloomfield Road is a hard place to go. They play in a central way, similar to the way that Swansea used to play, and they have got some good attacking players who can score goals.
“But if we stick together, like we did on Tuesday night, and soak up that pressure, then hopefully we can come away with a good result.”