Darren Pratley “buzzing” to be back

Wanderers captain Darren Pratley was "buzzing" to make his return from injury in Saturday's hard-fought draw with Norwich City after nearly two months on the sidelines.

The 32-year-old had not featured for Phil Parkinson’s side since being forced off during the Whites' 1-0 victory over Hull City on New Year’s Day.

Bolton have built a small gap between themselves and the Sky Bet Championship's bottom three in their skipper's absence.

And with a derby clash with local-rivals Preston North End looming at Macron Stadium this weekend, Pratley is hungry to make up for lost time with 12 games left of the season.

"It felt like about six months out!" the midfielder joked with bwfc.co.uk at Carrow Road. "It was a difficult game to come back in.

"I’ve only trained three or four times with the team, so I was thrown in the deep end a little bit but buzzing to come away with a point and to get the 90 minutes under my belt."

Pratley was one of four changes to the side from the Tuesday’s 1-0 win over Sunderland, and the skipper expressed the importance of having good strength in depth heading into the final stretch of the seasons.

He continued: “The boys who have come into the side in recent weeks have been brilliant.”

"I think Jem [Karacan] put in another brilliant performance. Alfie [Adam Le Fondre] came in and did the same along with a few of the other lads.

"They’ve stepped in, showed that they want to play and taken that responsibility on. They’ve done well.

"Whoever comes in knows their role and everyone’s pushing in the right direction. That’s only going to be good for us."

Saturday's draw with Norwich saw the Trotters maintain their four-point advantage over the drop-zone heading into this weekend's clash with play-off chasing Preston North End.

And having also beaten rivals Sunderland in their previous home outing, Pratley was proud of Wanderers' efforts when reflecting on what had been a good week before taking time to credit the fans for their fantastic ongoing support.

He said: "We’ve got great support from the fans. For them to travel down to Norwich and support us the way they did – it’s brilliant."

"Our away form has been poor and sometimes we have sent them home empty handed, but I’m sure they would have been happy with that result."

"It was a good win against Sunderland, the boys put in a lot of effort.

"Then to come away to Norwich, against a team that keep the ball well with players who can hurt you, and get a point when our away form has been poor can only be good for us.”

"Four points in a week sets us up nicely for the Preston game at home."

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