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Mark Bonner previews Bolton clash

31 January 2022

Mark Bonner sat down with local media on Monday morning to previews the U's League One clash with Bolton Wanderers...

On the signing of Lorent Tolaj:

“Lorent [Tolaj] is a 20-year-old Swiss youth international who’s scored a lot for Brighton’s Under 23’s this season.

“He had a choice of good options this window in England as well as abroad and he really wants to challenge himself with us now. We’re pleased to sign him.

“Our relationship with Brighton is good, following the arrival of Jensen [Weir] in the summer, and Lorent [Tolaj] has some qualities that we’re missing with Joe [Ironside] out of the team.

“He’s strong, he’s good with his back to goal and he’s a real aggressive hard worker. We’re looking forward to him being involved in the squad and training with us. We’ve worked hard to get him in and we’re really happy now he’s here.”

On the U’s January business:

“We knew we needed to do something at centre back and Sam [Sherring] has come in and settled really well, I’m sure he was frustrated not to start at the weekend but I’ve told him he has a big part to play between now and the end of the season.

“Lorent just gives us the extra number that we needed up front. Liam O’Neil will be back involved this week; Jensen's not far away and can hopefully join the group in training soon.

“Shilow [Tracey] will be back soon. Lloyd [Jones] isn’t too far away also so we're not far away from having good numbers, I think the most stretched we're going to be is this next fortnight with the number of games that we've got off the back of a really busy month.

“No-one’s played more games so far in 2022, and we've probably done it with the fewest number of players, so that makes our run even more impressive.

“It would be the wrong thing to do to sign some players to get us through the next fortnight when we've got good players here ourselves, with young players that can contribute if needed in that period of time, and then once we get everybody back and available, we will be in a strong position to attack the last third of the season.”

On the U’s current form:

“It’s been a tough period, but at the same time players always want to play. It’s going to be a monster seven days, going up north on Saturday, then home and then repeated on Tuesday. The supporters that have done it have been magnificent!

“Saturday’s game was obviously in awful conditions; I spoke to so many managers and coaches over the weekend; I listen to so many interviews and read so many match reports and nearly everyone wherever they were in the country said the game was ruined by the wind.

“It certainly wasn’t a classic to watch this weekend, of course, but it's a brilliant result and a really pleasing end to the month. To play eight games and not be beaten in 90 minutes, with all of those in quick succession is outstanding.

“We know tomorrow, to go to Bolton, is a tough game but we go there in high spirits, and we’re looking forward to it!”

On Bolton:

“I think if we look at January's for both teams over the last two years, we’ve both been exceptional, in terms of results. Both seasons has seen a transformation of their squad. Some real senior players have left in recent weeks but they've re-invested heavily and well on some excellent players.

“I think the strength of their team and squad at the minute is very good. The expectation internally, I'm sure, is to do what happened last year and going to a run of winning games and they've now won three on the bounce like we did last week.

“They will probably be looking to continue their run and push for a late play off push because that's what the expectation in their club, in their team, and within the fanbase.

“That’s the kind of pressure that they are under with the quality. We've known that from last year, I think we've seen it plenty of times this year, but we had a good game with them at our place earlier in the season, and they then had come into the game off the back of an incredible.

“I’m sure they will be full of confidence and looking to back that up with another strong performance against us.”

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