Coyle rues latest injury setback

The right-back sustained a ruptured Achilles in an

innocuous-looking incident during Wednesday’s 1-0 FA Cup

fourth-round replay victory over Wigan and will undergo an

operation on Friday. Ricketts, who has been a key member of

Bolton’s back four this season, is expected to be out of action for

six months, meaning he faces a battle to be fit for the start of

the next campaign. The DW Stadium clash was the second match in a

row that Coyle witnessed one of his defenders leaving the pitch on

a stretcher after Zat Knight damaged knee ligaments in last

weekend’s 2-0 Premier League victory over Everton. The Scot said:

“Unfortunately Sam’s ruptured his Achilles and he’ll be operated on

today but the likelihood is he’ll be missing for about six months,

which is an incredible blow first and foremost to Sam, because he’s

been outstanding for us. “Our immediate thoughts are with him for a

speedy recovery and we’ll just have to get on with it. It was

totally innocuous and it’s a real shame because he’s a terrific lad

as well as a fantastic footballer. “You could see in the dressing

room he obviously knew it was a bad one. But he’s very strong

mentally so, although he’ll certainly be disappointed to miss the

rest of the season with the lads, I’ve got no doubts that come the

summer he’ll come back as big and strong as ever.” Wigan’s pitch

was relaid following Wednesday’s cup tie but Coyle denied the state

of the playing surface could have been a factor in Ricketts’

injury. He said: “There’s no blame to the pitch. Roberto [Martinez,

Wigan boss] will tell you it’s not a great pitch, certainly not

conducive to the way Wigan want to play, but there’s absolutely no

blame apportioned to the pitch with regards to the injury.” The

Bolton boss also confirmed Knight is likely to be out for six weeks

after further assessment of his knee problem. Coyle added: “He’s

making progress but we still expect Zat to be missing for six

weeks, which is not ideal but that’s the nature of football with

the speed the game’s played at at this level. It’s a crying shame

for both lads because they’ve been in terrific form.” The absence

of Wales international Ricketts gives Coyle a real problem for

Sunday’s FA Cup fifth-round trip to Fulham as both Gretar Steinsson

and Jlloyd Samuel, who would be natural replacements at right-back,

are also injured. Against Wigan, Paul Robinson switched sides

enabling Marcos Alonso to come on at left-back, and that could well

be the option the Trotters boss uses again. He said: “As a football

club we’ll just have to adjust and make the most of what we’ve got.

“We don’t have another right-back sitting there waiting to play but

we’ll look to put out a team that’s capable of winning games at the

level we play, and that’s a great challenge for us all.” Coping

with Knight’s absence is not so much of an issue following the

January arrival of David Wheater, and the former Middlesbrough man

already looks to have formed a good partnership with Gary Cahill.

Coyle added: “Good players enjoy playing with good players and in

Zat Knight, Gary Cahill and David Wheater I think we have three

fantastic centre-backs. And that will provide real competition for

that area of the park when they’re all fit.”