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Championship fixtures released this week and Gary Madine can't wait to get going

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse
Gary Madine cannot wait to mix it with the Championship’s big guns once again.

After a year reacquainting themselves with some of the lesser-known footballing venues of League One, Wanderers find out on Wednesday in what order they get to tackle top arenas like the Stadium of Light, Villa Park, Hillsborough, Elland Road and the Riverside once again.

Anticipation is high in the Whites camp too, with Madine among a handful of players who are keen to prove the club’s last season at this level was a one-off disappointment.

A lot has changed in the second tier in 12 months. Premier League money continues to seep into the top half of the division making the gap between the Championship’s ‘haves and have-nots’ wider than ever before.

Wanderers go into next season as one of the bookies’ favourites for relegation. But the big striker, who signed a new two-year deal this summer, is relishing the opportunity to ruffle some feathers against some of the fallen giants of the game.

“This is an exciting time for fans but it is for the lads too,” he told The Bolton News. “It is especially the case for me because you look at Sheffield Wednesday, my former club, and then the likes of Leeds United, Sunderland and Middlesbrough – they are all massive.

“I’m a Newcastle fan, so I think the games against Sunderland and Middlesbrough will get me going.

“I enjoyed my time at Wednesday too, so I’ll always wish them well, I just hope they have an off-day when they play us.

“But there are loads of massive teams in the Championship these days and we’re relishing the challenge, we believe we can be as good as any of them so I think we’ll go out and give it a right go.”

It is already 50 days since Wanderers beat Peterborough United at the Macron to seal automatic promotion and another few weeks before the players are called in for pre-season training.

Madine is looking forward to getting going again, and this week’s fixture announcement always raises the levels of anticipation.

“I’d love to get back to it,” he said. “I think we all want to get back out there on the pitch but it’s important you have some time to switch off, some recovery time, otherwise you are prone to getting injuries and there’s nothing worse.”

Madine is on course to recover from the shoulder injury which caused him to miss a few games at the end of last season, then seek painkilling injections, in time to join his team-mates at Lostock next month.

Parkinson’s squad is slowly shaping up after adding Andy Taylor, Jem Karacan, Adam Le Fondre and Mark Little as permanent signings.

Madine, Dorian Dervite and David Wheater have also committed to new deals, with discussions continuing on Filipe Morais and Jay Spearing.

Continuity is a key factor for the Whites as they look to retain the same defensive structure which was so important in last season’s success.

Madine is only happy he is on the same team!

“It’s such a solid defence,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to play against Wheats or Beevs (David Wheater and Mark Beevers) – it’s bad enough having to face them in training.

“Before I signed my contract I did ask the manager what his plans were for next season because I think we have got a good side, with lads who really get on with each other.

“I said I thought it would be best to keep them together, then add a few bits of quality to what we already have in the squad.

“I honestly think we’ve got it in us to have a right good go in the Championship, I really do.”

Meanwhile, reports linking ex-Peterborough United striker Paul Taylor with a move to Wanderers are understood to be wide of the mark.

The 29-year-old is wanted by Bradford City but Phil Parkinson has not enquired about his services.


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