LONDON: Bolton will return to White Hart Lane today for the first
time since Fabrice Muamba collapsed on that pitch, with several players
dealing with flashbacks of their teammate's near-death experience.
And Bolton manager Owen Coyle
admitted that he does not know whether the emotions of the occasion -
just 10 days after the traumatic incident - will prove too much for some
during the rescheduled FA Cup quarter-final tie.
Defender Sam Ricketts told the Daily Mail that the emotional rollercoaster has also resulted in some players falling ill.
'There were a few lads who, when they were
asleep, had flashbacks to certain things they'd seen (at Spurs),' he
said, referring to the scenes of medics attempting to restart the
23-year-old Muamba's heart, which stopped beating for 78 minutes.
'It's been such an emotional drain. In the
early part of the week, until we knew how well Fabrice was doing, no one
wanted to play football.'
Midfielder Darren Pratley added: 'I don't
think you do sleep when something like that happens to one of your close
mates. We saw him every day, and then, in effect, he was dead on the
pitch. It's been the hardest week of my life.'
Bolton won their first game since the incident
when they beat Blackburn 2-1 in the Premier League at the Reebok
Stadium on Saturday, with the biggest crowd at the ground this season
gathering to demonstrate their support for Muamba.
Today, however, threatens to be a more sombre, eerie affair.
Said Coyle: 'It will be different. As much as
we felt ready to play against Blackburn, until they cross that white
line, you don't know how they are going to react. It might be doubly
He added he would consult Muamba's family and
doctors at the London Chest Hospital before deciding whether the squad
will visit the player before the Spurs game.
Bolton's desire to reach a second successive
FA Cup semi-final at Wembley and avoid relegation for Muamba are
obvious. But Coyle said that the incident is likely to influence the way
he continues to approach management.
'Sometimes it does give you a different perspective on how you look at things,' he said. 'I think it gives some balance to it.'