Josh Vela pleased with Wanderers' team spirit ahead of league opener

Academy graduate reflects on Saturday's draw with Preston alongside pre-season as a whole

Speaking following the club’s final pre-season clash against Preston, Josh Vela praised the team spirit in the Bolton camp as present, with the academy graduate believing that the hard work and camaraderie shown of late will stand the squad in good stead ahead of the new campaign.

With Saturday’s goalless draw with the Lilywhites marking the conclusion of the club’s preparations for the upcoming season, Vela played 70 minutes in the weekend’s friendly clash.

And reflecting upon the game as well as pre-season overall, the 22-year-old is pleased with how the team is shaping up ahead of next Saturday’s season opener against Sheffield United.

“The team spirit on the whole has been brilliant since we’ve come back and that has shown out there on the pitch,” he said. 

“You only have to look at last year when we went behind in games – our heads would drop and we’d fold, but against Burnley earlier in the week we picked ourselves up and got back into the game.

“Against Preston, I thought we did quite well – we kept compact, disciplined and in the second half I thought we were the better team. 

“We definitely had the better chances and we could have gone on to win the game, but it’s another positive as we look towards the opening game next weekend against Sheffield United.”

He continued: “Of course, pre-season is all about getting fit, working together as a team and making sure our shape is right, but it’s been really enjoyable. 

“Obviously we went to Sweden for a week which was good for bonding and getting everybody involved, while we’ve also had a few good results too which is always a bonus.”

Having figured prominently himself throughout the club’s pre-season exploits meanwhile, Vela is happy with his own efforts as he looks to cement his place in the team under the stewardship of new manager Phil Parkinson.

“I feel personally that I’ve done okay in pre-season," he explained. "I’ve been playing in midfield a lot, so hopefully I can build on that and keep my place for next Saturday.

“It’s been brilliant working under the new gaffer though – it’s been a breath of fresh air really. He’s encouraged us all a lot and while he wants things to be disciplined, he wants us to express ourselves when we can do.

“I can’t wait for the Sheffield United game though – it’s going to be a massive match for us. They’re obviously a big team in League One and it’ll be a good atmosphere in the stadium, but all we’ll be looking towards is picking up all three points.”

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