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Wanderers won't rush returning Clough despite goal-scoring issues

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse
Wanderers won’t be putting any extra pressure on Zach Clough to ease their goal-scoring burden against Bradford City.

The striker made an unexpectedly early appearance off the bench in Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at Walsall, coming on for full-back Lewis Buxton at half time.

He has returned to full training the previous week and had been described as “fit and sharp” by Phil Parkinson in the lead up to the game.

But the 21-year-old, who had played less than 90 minutes’ football in total during his three previous appearances this season, will not be rushed back into action sooner than necessary.

Phil Parkinson confirmed Clough came through his Walsall appearance with no major problems but that the club would be keeping a close eye on him this week.

“It’s a case of monitoring him at the moment because he hasn’t had a lot of football this season,” he told The Bolton News. “Ideally we would have only given him 15-20 minutes at Walsall but we thought that because they were down to 10 men we’d have that little bit of extra possession and chose to give him the full 45.

“He came through it, which is a boost for us, but we have to tread a little bit carefully.”

Hamstring problems had ruled Clough out since the 2-1 win over Fleetwood last month but Wanderers’ medical staff have been extra vigilant in his comeback attempt to prevent any reoccurrence of the injury.

Clough was Wanderers’ top-scorer in the Championship last season with seven goals and went close with two chances against Walsall at the weekend.

Parkinson is missing some key attacking players at present, including top scorer Gary Madine, who is still confined to gym work after suffering a groin injury against Southend United.

To make matters worse, Wanderers picked up another controversial suspension at the Banks’s Stadium to further limit their options up front.

Keshi Anderson’s red card in the 94th minute for two bookable offences was described as “ridiculous” by the Whites boss after the final whistle.

Referee Trevor Kettle handed out a first caution to the striker for entering the field of play without permission, despite claims from the Bolton bench that he was ushered on to the pitch by the fourth official.

Parkinson has discussed the incident with Football League referee’s chief David Allison and confirmed there would be no chance of an appeal.

But the manager was also eager to offer some encouragement to Anderson, the youngster signed from Crystal Palace on loan on transfer deadline day.

“I’ve had a good chat with Keshi and as much as he’s understandably disappointed, we have got 10 days now to work really hard with him and make sure he’s bang on where we need him to be,” he said.

“He won’t be available for the weekend, unfortunately, but he’ll be right in contention for the Rochdale game.”

Parkinson is keen to put a string of controversial refereeing decisions behind him and hopes Mark Heywood – the man who acted as fourth official at the Macron when Southend Boss Phil Brown was sent from the touchline a few weeks ago – will give him no reason to complain.

“I think it’s important we move on as best as possible,” he said. “I had a good chat with Dave Allison and explained a few things but we won’t be appealing anything, you can’t appeal yellow cards.

“Over the last few games we’ve been disappointed by some of the decisions which have gone against us but we have to move on.”

Unlike Kettle, Cheshire ref Heywood does not have much of a history with Wanderers and has taken charge of them just once – a 3-1 win over Brentford early in Neil Lennon’s tenure in October 2014.


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