Elmander boost for Bolton

Posted Saturday, September 19, 2009 by PA

Johan Elmander should be fit to return to Bolton's starting line-up against Stoke following a calf injury.

Sean Davis is a doubt with a sore knee and Andy O'Brien (groin) is a doubt.

Ricardo Gardner came through training sessions this week with no ill-effects to his hamstring injury and may be in contention, while Ricardo Vaz Te is also back after playing 45 minutes for the reserves.

Long-term absentee Joey O'Brien has suffered a further setback in his rehabilitation from his knee problems after a specialist recommended he have an operation that will rule him out for at least another four months.

Full-back Jlloyd Samuel should keep his place after being dropped at the start of the campaign.

Samuel was an ever-present in the Premier League last season when the club secured their status under manager Gary Megson after a poor start.

But he found himself on the bench in the opening games against Sunderland and Hull - which both ended in defeats - with new arrival Paul Robinson getting the nod.

He said: "Losing my place was one of those things. It was the manager's decision and you've got to go along with it.

"I just kept my head down - I had a good pre-season - and waited for my chance again. Hopefully I have taken it as I want to play regularly again this season.

"I have been pleased with my performances and just want to keep pushing on. I am 28 now and feel I still have a lot to offer."

Stoke goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen should be fit to return from a thigh strain after limping off in the first half of last Saturday's defeat by Chelsea.

James Beattie, who burst a blood vessel in his ankle in the same game, is a serious doubt despite the injury being not as serious as first feared.

Stoke boss Tony Pulis is likely to make further changes after selecting three centre-backs against Chelsea, with wingers Liam Lawrence and Matthew Etherington back in contention.

Centre-half Ryan Shawcross will pull out all the stops to avoid a repeat of his nightmare Premier League debut.

The highly-rated 21-year-old was partly to blame for two of the goals as his team suffered a 3-1 defeat at the Reebok Stadium on the opening day of last season.

Shawcross was dropped by Pulis in the aftermath and it took him more than two months to win his place back.

But he has gone from strength to strength since then - so much so that his manager has tipped him to play for England within two years.

Shawcross said: "It was a baptism of fire at Bolton last season and a very tough game for us.

"I made a couple of mistakes which were highlighted. I think they were put under the microscope so much because it was the first game.

"But if you have a bad game in the Premier League you are likely to be replaced, and that's what happened.

"It took me a while to regroup and get back in the team, but the most pleasing thing is I've managed to stay there."

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