Bolton V Newcastle at Reebok Stadium - Match Preview
Updated Saturday, 24th December 2011
Coyle coy on Davies role
Bolton manager Owen Coyle has denied Kevin Davies is excluded from his plans for Boxing Day's Barclays Premier League clash against Newcastle after the Wanderers captain missed out in Tuesday's 2-1 win over Blackburn.
The striker started the game on the bench but was not called upon during the match at Ewood Park, with Coyle instead choosing a strike partnership of Ivan Klasnic and David Ngog.
Mark Davies and Nigel Reo-Coker's first-half goals were enough to seal the win which lifted Bolton off the foot of the table, with the Trotters now focussing on back-to-back home games during the festive period.
Newcastle the first to visit the Reebok Stadium on Boxing Day before Wolves arrive on New Year's Eve, but Coyle says nothing should be read into the fact Davies was left out of the starting line-up in midweek.
"What we did was make a number of changes, it wasn't just one change," Coyle said. "We do that from game to game because the bottom line is, when you're not winning matches, as we hoped we would be, you've got to change things where you can.
"For his part the skipper's been magnificent. He's an outstanding player, he's an outstanding man and he loves the football club and I think if truth be told he's been trying too hard.
"As captain he takes that responsibility on board and is a terrific ambassador for this football club and an outstanding player. He's got a big role to play at this football club.
"We made the decision the other night and whether we look to change it for Newcastle time will tell, but I certainly can't reveal too much and give Alan Pardew too much information."
Bolton displayed a much-improved performance during the first 45 minutes against Rovers and Coyle has called for his team to use the win as a platform to deliver more points at the Reebok.
The Trotters have only won once at home in the league so far this season, a 5-0 thrashing of Stoke on November 5, but Coyle had plenty to be cheerful about following the Blackburn match.
"From the first whistle, we were terrific," he said. "Equally so, our fans for their part have been magnificent from day one. That's testament to what we want to do but it's time for us as a group of players to show the fans and thank them for their loyalty and put a smile on their face in the Christmas and New Year period. What we have to do now is kick on and win our home games to come."
Marcos Alonso will miss out after surgery to replace a pin in his foot but David Wheater is back in contention after a four-match suspension.
Newcastle striker Demba Ba will not set himself any targets other than having fun on the pitch.
The 26-year-old Senegal international has been a revelation since his arrival on Tyneside, putting all talk of a suspect knee to one side with 13 goals for the Magpies to take his tally since he joined from West Ham in January to 20.
However, Ba, whose double in midweek could not deny West Brom victory, insists he arrived on Tyneside without any landmark in his mind.
He said: "I don't really expect to score 10 or 15 or five or 20 goals - when I first came I just wanted to play, to have fun on the pitch, to show the whole club that the trust they put in me I was going to give it back.
"That's what has happened. I just have fun when I play, and think people see it on a Saturday or a Sunday."
While few would have expected Newcastle to take much more than the one point they did from successive games against Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea, they themselves would have banked on the same return from a trip to Norwich and home clashes with Swansea and West Brom.
Injuries and suspensions have bitten hard into the squad during that period but Ba, who will lead the line once again at Bolton on Boxing Day as the Magpies attempt to end their drought, insists spirits have not dropped as a result.
He said: "I don't think it has affected anybody in the team and personally, it hasn't affected me.
"When you look at the schedule, we have played three of the top teams and we could have got more from that.
"We just missed some of the little things that could have made a victory or something else.
"But it hasn't affected me and it hasn't affected the team, and we are just going to try to get back to winning."
Yohan Cabaye will return to the starting line-up after serving a one-match ban in midweek but Davide Santon (knee) is being assessed.