Bolton Wanderers’ MJ Williams sets target for Ipswich Town opener in League One

THE race is on at Wanderers for a starting spot against Ipswich Town on the opening day of the season.

MJ Williams reckons getting a place in Ian Evatt’s XI at Portman Road will be as tough as it ever has been in his time with Bolton.

The combative midfielder has been one of the first names on the team-sheet for the Whites over the last year-and-a-half but says rivalry for spots in the team will be a positive thing.

“Every day there is competition but, absolutely, everyone wants to be in that team against Ipswich,” he said.

“We started last season really well but then we got all the injuries and the illness which knocked us down.

“This season I think we have two or three players for every position, so if someone is out for whatever reason then there are fresh legs to come in, whether that’s for a game or from the subs’ bench.

“It is good to have competitiveness but whether we’re starting or not, you have to be together as a team.”

Wanderers signed a raft of new players in the January transfer window including Aaron Morley, Jon Dadi Bodvarsson and Dion Charles.

Williams – himself a January addition in 2021 – believes they too will have benefitted in pre-season from more time on the training ground.

“It can be tough to join in January because it is half-way through a season and you don’t get that many training sessions to teach them ‘our way,’” he said.

“This pre-season everyone has been together since day one and we have built on it, worked on something different every day.

“I think it is starting to show now in games that we are pressing higher and in positions when we get the ball to attack teams.

“You have to be able to keep the ball as well and we can do that as well.”

Williams is upbeat about two of the new arrivals this summer, with Jack Iredale settling quickly as a left wing-back or on the left side of the back three.

“He can play both positions well and he’s quick,” Williams said. “I was pretty surprised. He is knocking out sprints like Rico at the moment.

“He has come in and settled in a good group that has been together for quite a while. I am sure he will have a great season.”

Conor Bradley has also caught the eye since signing on loan from Liverpool – a club close to Williams’ heart.

“He is a great lad, pretty quiet but I am sure we will get him out of his shell,” he said.

“Out on the pitch you can tell he’s come from a club like Liverpool. The way we want to play here is front foot, so he is used to it.

“He is quick and I think he has got the longest legs I have ever seen on a footballer.

“I am sure he will be a great player for us this season.”

Wanderers appear to have a good blend in midfield, and Williams believes the different skillsets will mean everyone spends some time out of the side this season.

“Whoever the gaffer picks, I am sure we will rotate at times. We have some top players in there and everyone can do different stuff,” he said.

“It will be great to see Josh Sheehan back because he was fantastic for us last season. I loved playing with him. We have missed him a bit too.

“Kyle Dempsey and Aaron Morley have come in and done great, so we have a good squad and I think we can have a great season.”


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