'Struggling' Diouf set for summer of hard graft
Bolton boss Sam Allardyce insists El-Hadji Diouf is going nowhere this summer.
The Senegal striker has been banished from the first-team dressing room at Bolton's Euxton training ground and forced to undergo punishing extra sessions in a bid to gain extra fitness after returning from the African Nations Cup requiring a double hernia operation.
Allardyce has now decided Diouf will not play again this season, a move which will only heighten talk of a close-season move for the man who cost around £4million, a club record fee, when he joined the Trotters from Liverpool almost 12 months ago after impressing during a loan spell at the Reebok.
However, the Bolton chief is adamant he has taken the decision to withdraw Diouf from first-team activities in order to ensure he is back to full fitness when the new campaign gets underway in August.
And Allardyce claims any talk of a transfer is wide of the mark.
'I have no doubt El-Hadji will be here next season,' said Allardyce. 'He is finished for this season because the injury has taken its toll and his confidence is low.
'Basically, he played with injections at the African Nations Cup and we have paid the cost of it since he came back.
'The lad has really been struggling, first physically and now mentally, so we have taken him out completely and taken the pressure off so he can concentrate on next season.
'As far as I am concerned, his pre-season starts now.'
Having made just two appearances since the home draw with Liverpool on January 2, Diouf's presence has been badly missed during a period when Bolton slipped out of two cup competitions and contention for a Champions League slot.
Even qualifying for Europe through the UEFA Cup or the previously derided Intertoto competition appeared a forlorn hope until Bolton finally shrugged off the shackles of a six-match run without a win by hammering Charlton.
The inspiration behind the triumph was Allardyce's amazing decision to axe Kevin Nolan, Stelios Giannakopoulos and Jay-Jay Okocha, dropping the entire trio to the substitutes' bench.
It was a move which stunned most Bolton fans and, having paid off so handsomely, Allardyce hopes some of his players who previously thought of themselves as automatic choices are now focussed on retaining their place in the team.
'A lot of players have done a great job this year, so I decided to rest them and give them a bit of time to recharge their batteries,' said Allardyce.
'But, after Saturday's performance, they have come back into training wondering if they are going to get selected.
'Perhaps they are not quite sleeping as soundly in their beds as they used to. That is a healthy thing. It stimulates the mental side of the player to go out and perform better.'
However, it appears one of the players who profited from Allardyce's surprise selection policy, veteran Spaniard Ivan Campo, could be about to enter his last week at Bolton.
Campo has so far rejected Bolton's efforts to extend his current contract, which is due to expire in the summer, and it seems almost certain he will return to Spain, having now expressed a desire to play for home-town club Real Sociedad.
'Everyone from San Sebastian would like to play for Real and I have a real longing in my heart to do so,' he told AS.