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By ESPN Staff
Sep 23, 2006

Nolan: Bolton players stand firmly behind Sam

Bolton captain Kevin Nolan insists the squad are fully supportive of manager Sam Allardyce following the BBC's allegations against him.

Nolan said the controversy over claims the Bolton boss had received illegal payments had served only to bring the squad even closer together.

Allardyce has said he is 'utterly innocent' of any wrongdoing.

Nolan said: 'Me and the players have got together and spoken about everything and we fully support the gaffer. We would also like to thank the fans for their support during this tough time for the club.

'Hopefully we can start to get over this with a great win on Monday night at Portsmouth.

'As a player you don't want to be talking about things going on off the field and I am really looking forward to Monday night and getting back to the normal basis.

'It's not been a distraction though because we played on Tuesday night and had a couple of days off and have come back in and the atmosphere around the training ground has been absolutely fantastic.

'We are all a family at this club and we're all behind the gaffer 100%.'

Allardyce and Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp have exchanged messages of support since Tuesday's Panorama programme.

Redknapp was also the subject of allegations by the BBC's undercover investigation - that he made an illegal approach for a player. Like Allardyce, he denies committing any offence.

Allardyce said: 'I have had some conversations with Harry yes. He said some nice things about me yesterday and the compliments go hand in hand.'

Allardyce went on to express gratitude for the messages of support he has received since Tuesday.

He said: 'The support has been absolutely tremendous and I have to thank everyone who has contacted me by phone, by text, by email, by letter or when I have bumped into them.

'That has been superb from my point of view and the rest of my family.

'The club, the staff and the players have been 100% behind me. That has been very, very encouraging.'

Talking about Monday's match, Allardyce stated he was not surprised that Portsmouth should be riding high at the top of the Premiership.

'I'm not surprised because I'm not surprised at anything Harry does,' said Allardyce. 'When he took over (in his first spell) they were near the bottom of the old First Division, and he dragged them from the depths of despair.

'They couldn't do without him and simply had to get him back and he managed to keep them up which was a minor miracle.

'After a takeover and being given a few extra bob he has invested it wisely and now they have had five games without conceding a goal.'

Kevin Davies may return for Bolton wearing a mask at Portsmouth.

The striker has been out for four weeks after fracturing his cheekbone against Charlton but played in training yesterday wearing a protective mask.

Stelios Giannakopoulos, Quinton Fortune and Abdoulaye Faye will all have fitness tests before the match, but Tal Ben Haim and skipper Nolan have both been declared fit after knocks picked up last weekend against Middlesbrough.