After topping the Whites’ scoring charts last term, the current campaign has been one of frustration for Eagles, who has struggled to overcome ligament damage sustained against his former club Burnley back in August.
Many equated the 28-year-old’s lack of game time with a possible move away from the Reebok in January – but after starting three of the last four games for Dougie Freedman, perhaps the ex-Manchester United man has been written off too soon on the terraces?
Certainly there was no lack of conviction on Eagles’ part as he spoke about his aims for the rest of the season on the eve of Wanderers’ trip to Leicester City tomorrow.
“Back at the beginning of the season I was full of confidence but I did my ankle and it just hasn’t been right,” he told The Bolton News. “I tried to get back before the QPR game and things went wrong – and it’s been stop start ever since.
“All I want is for the team to do well and for Bolton to win. “And now I feel like I’m 100 per cent, fitness wise. All I need now is matches because you can train as much as you want but it can’t replace match conditions.
“I got nearly 90 minutes at Barnsley – my first away game for absolutely ages – and my ankle is holding up, so it’s all positive.”
The loss of Kevin McNaughton and Neil Danns after their loan spells gives Freedman a decision to make ahead of the Leicester game.
Eagles hopes Thursday’s win at Barnsley is not the last time he plays alongside the pair – but has backed the rest of the squad to cope in their absence.
“They have done a brilliant job but they are professional footballers and it is part of it,” he said. “Hopefully, they can come back. We just have to stay positive.
“If they don’t come back we have got to stay positive because everyone knows about the strength and depth of our squad. We have got to kick on like we did last year.
“They have been great round the club. They have fitted in just right like Joe Mason. Everyone works for each other. We don’t worry who scores and we celebrate together. We have a great tight squad but we shouldn’t be down where we are.”
Defeat at Leicester was a big turning point last season for both clubs – but Eagles thinks it was just one of several factors that stopped the club getting into the play-offs.
“It was a kick in the teeth but then we had Blackpool at home last game of the season. We just couldn’t score after coming out 2-2 at half-time,” he said.
“I don’t think it was down to one game, it built up through the season. It’s a great time to kick on now. We have a stronger squad so there’s no reason why we can’t.”