Bolton boss Lee relishing selection dilemma
Bolton boss Sammy Lee is hoping his receding injury problems will help spark a Carling Cup push at Fulham tomorrow night.
Forgotten man Joey O'Brien made his first start in 15 months against Tottenham on Sunday after a knee injury, and with Ricardo Gardner also back in the fold and Stelios Giannakopoulos nearing his return, the beleaguered Wanderers manager at last has options.
The hugely experienced Ivan Campo made his first appearance of the season against Spurs, and with the demands of the Barclays Premier League, the UEFA Cup and the season's first domestic knockout competition testing his resources, Lee is likely to shuffle his pack at Craven Cottage.
That could mean chances for the likes of Daniel Braaten and Christian Wilhelmsson following his return from a groin problem.
However, it is the availability of 21-year-old O'Brien and Gardner which has provided Wanderers with a timely boost.
Lee said: 'It is a bonus for me and them that they are building up their match fitness.
'Stelios (Giannakopoulos) is also making great progress, but unfortunately he has not had any game time.
'Joey is not 100% yet - that will come in time - but he showed his quality against Tottenham. If he stays injury-free, he will be fine.
'We have strength in depth and will be looking to use all our players at some stage in various competitions.'
Successive 1-1 draws against FK Rabotnicki in the UEFA Cup and Spurs in the league on Sunday have helped Bolton stem a run of bad results.
Indeed, the 3-0 win over Reading on August 25 was the only time they avoided defeat in the first six games of the season.
That run included a 2-1 Premier League reverse at Fulham, and revenge for that would maintain their improving form and clinch their passage to the fourth round in a competition in which they reached the final in 2004.
Lee freely acknowledges that there is much work to be done, but he is happy that the club's recent improvement has given them a foundation upon which to build.
He said: 'Every competition has its own importance, its own relevance and none more so than this game as it is the next game.
'It is opportunity to show we are improving. I have high standards.
'We are not firing on all cylinders, but I feel against Tottenham, there was an improvement, although I was not pleased with some aspects of our play.
'The joy of football is you always have a chance of rectifying the mistakes you have made.
'It is another opportunity to take it on and improve our game and go a stage further.'