A lot of people didn’t hold out much hope for Bolton surviving on their return to the Championship this season. While they had done well to get promoted, the financial situation at the club and their inability to therefore really strengthen was always going to make things difficult.

Phil Parkinson has had to make use of the free and loan market in order to give his side a fighting chance, but one other thing they would certainly need is character.

It was a pretty torrid start to the campaign for Bolton who had to wait 12 games before they saw their first victory come in the league. Prior to beating Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 at the Macron they had been on a run of eight straight defeats. Following that win though, the tide started to change a little in Bolton’s favour and Parkinson’s side have certainly become a stronger outfit.

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Bolton over the last few weeks have been superbly led by striker Madine, picking up vital points in the process. Unfortunately though this made him a target for other sides and he left the club to join Cardiff City in the January transfer window for a reported £6 million. While this cash boost could be crucial, losing Madine was going to make life a whole lot more difficult for Bolton, or was it?

There was talk that Madine would be replaced by Michiel Kramer who has recently been released by Feyenoord but so far Bolton have done well regardless. They beat Bristol City 1-0 at home thanks to a Sammy Ameobi goal. A great achievement against a side who are looking to finish in the play offs this season.

They have since followed that result up by coming from behind against Fulham who have been flying of late. Bolton were 1-0 down after just four minutes but the game ended all square thanks to an Adam Le Fondre equaliser.

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It was always going to take a huge effort for Bolton to stay in the Championship this season regardless, but losing Madine was seen as a huge blow. Since his departure though, Bolton’s character has really shone through. The players looked to have been galvanised by it and they look like a side who will give everything to preserve their status in England’s second tier.

Fans can now have something to look forward to, and even though trusted betting sites like Unibet have priced them 23/4 to win away at Cardiff City; it now seems that Bolton have a growing belief in themselves which was not there before.

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The arrivals of Zach Clough, Jon Flanagan, Tyler Walker and Reece Burke could all prove important over the course of the next few months, especially if injuries hit. Phil Parkinson knows he has a team which will fight against even some of the better sides in the division and even when going a goal down too.

As things stand there are a few clubs you would look at and say are in worse condition right now than Bolton form wise and if Parkinson’s men can keep going in the same manner, they could find themselves playing Championship football once again next season.

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BA (Hons) Sport Journalism graduate. Editor at The72.