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Bolton Nuts » BWFC » Bolton Wanderers News » Neil Lennon hopes his players can give him the inside track on Dougie Freedman

Neil Lennon hopes his players can give him the inside track on Dougie Freedman

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse
Neil Lennon is plotting Nottingham Forest’s downfall tomorrow, hoping inside knowledge in the Wanderers camp can help his staff out-think former Whites boss Dougie Freedman.

Lennon is preparing his men for a reunion with the Scot hoping to steal a march on his opposite number and succeed in their ‘Operation City Ground’ aim of victory.

And he feels the absence of injured main Forest gunner Britt Assombalonga is a plus for his side with that target of maximum points in mind.

Despite that, though, Lennon says he will be talking with the players who played under his predecessor in a bid to gain an edge in his pre-match plans.

However, he concedes that will not be all one-sided with Freedman likely to also call on his experience working with many of the Wanderers squad before he was replaced by the Northern Irishman in October.

Lennon told The Bolton News: “We will talk to the players who played here under Dougie to see if we can get an insight into how they might play.

“But I think Dougie will have a big advantage over me in terms of he knows the players here a lot better than I know theirs.

“I’m sure he will be tapping into that.

“He may have gone into Forest with a totally new approach – I don’t know, so it may not tell us a lot.”

It is the first time Freedman has faced Wanderers since his exit and he is sure to want to prove a point and get one over his former employers.

It is likely to be the same feeling for the near 1,000 Whites fans heading to the East Midlands, but Lennon insists as far as he is concerned, it is more about getting the result on the field than points scoring off it.

He knows it will not be easy with Forest unbeaten in three games under Freedman so far.

Like Wanderers, they were involved in a high-scoring encounter last time out when they drew 4-4 at Blackpool while the Whites went down 4-3 at home to Watford.

It may suggest goals aplenty tomorrow but Lennon would just as easily settle for a low-scoring affair as long as his team gets something out of the game

The Whites boss said: “I would take 0-0 now because a point away from home at this level is great.

“Our game and their game were the two stand-out results last weekend.

“Dougie has gone in and they have scored 10 goals in three games so he has obviously given them a bit of a lift going in there.

“Forest are probably a bit like us when I first came in and not hitting the heights they should have been with the quality they have.

“A change in manager brings a change in mental approach sometimes.

The City Ground is a great venue and I think they will be very strong at home now for the rest of the season so we have to be ready for that.”

Lennon is hoping to have strikers Emile Heskey and Craig Davies available to add to his attacking options this weekend.

In contrast, Freedman has to do without 15-goal top scorer Assombalonga after he suffered a serious kneecap dislocation in the last home outing against Wigan.

And having also been hit with a series of long-term injuries this season to the likes of Mark Davies and Max Clayton, Lennon has sympathy with the young Forest hitman.

The Whites manager said: “They have lost Assombalonga which is a huge blow for them and him personally.

“It’s horrendous for the kid.

“He has come from non-league and worked his way up and it’s a fantastic story.

“He was having a great season in terms of goals.

“To have his season finished with a horrendous injury.

“I just hope he makes a speedy recovery.

“No-one likes to see any player pick up a long-term injury like that – like Max Clayton for us – particularly when there is no collision or anything like that, it is something where his trailing foot has given way having a shot and all the weight has gone on his knee.

“It’s awful and everyone here wishes him a speedy recovery.

“He is obviously a very hungry boy because when you play non-league and work your way up you tend to appreciate what you have a lot more.

“He is a big loss for them.”

Even without Assombalonga, Lennon predicts a tough test at Forest and says whoever is in the opposition dugout, it is about getting back on track for him and getting a positive result.

He said: “It’s a question of picking up points whoever we are playing.

“We have to consolidate our position in the Championship and look to build for next season.

“We have a big three games coming up with Forest, Middlesbrough and Brighton – they are all tough games in their own way but a great challenge.”


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