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By ESPN Staff

Nolan jumps to defence of under fire boss

Bolton captain Kevin Nolan has launched a spirited defence of under-pressure manager Sammy Lee ahead of the UEFA Cup match against Rabotnicki tonight.

Five defeats in six games have seen the club tumble to the foot of the Premier league table.

Lee has come in for stinging criticism, but Nolan said: 'I do not see why Sammy should be under so much pressure early in the season. We want to take that pressure from him and believe we will do if we stick together as we have done in the past.

'When I speak to family and friends they think everything is going wrong at Bolton. But we are as strong as ever and want to get through this. There are only winners in this dressing room.

'Sammy comes from a winning mentality and we would love to achieve what he has in his career.''

Nolan admits, however, that he has not been happy with his own form.

'Results speak for themselves,'' he said. 'We've all had a pretty average season, especially myself.

'I will always try my best and never give less than 100% but I have not been happy. I would not have minded if I'd been playing badly and the team was winning.

'But that has not been the case. I just want us to turn things around together. We all want the best for the club.''

Bolton are in the UEFA Cup for the second time in three years and Lee believes a different environment could just get their season up and running.

But he appreciates that Rabotnicki, who lie joint top of the Macedonian league, could prove difficult opponents in this first-round, first-leg game.

He said: 'This club has worked hard to qualify and the UEFA Cup is not a distraction. We are fully aware we've not had the best of starts. This is another opportunity for us to get our season going.

'These are games you look forward to and we have a number of players who already have European experience. Hopefully that will be to our advantage,''

Defender Andy O'Brien is expected to be fit for the match in Macedonia after he suffered severe cramp in the defeat by Birmingham.

Ricardo Gardner is likely to return at left back as Jlloyd Samuel is ruled out because of a hamstring injury.