Coyle tells Muamba’s team-mates they do not have to play against Blackburn

Have your say

Bolton manager Owen Coyle says it will be impossible not to think of Fabrice Muamba when his team take on Blackburn this weekend.

Seven days after Muamba was left fighting for his life after suffering a cardiac arrest at Tottenham, his team-mates will attempt to haul Bolton out of the relegation zone.

Ordinarily, the Lancashire derby would be viewed as crucial, a make-or-break encounter of over-riding importance.

The events of the past week have rather undermined that viewpoint.

“Football is not more important than what has happened,” said Coyle.

“Nobody is more passionate about football than me. Is the game important? Yes, in the context of the Premier League, and we will do our best.

“But football is not the be-all and end-all. What happened to Fabrice on Saturday puts everything in perspective and our first thoughts will be with him.”

Coyle spoke with his players at a team meeting on Wednesday and will do so again before finalising his side. They have all been told to speak up if there is a shred of doubt over their participation in a game so soon after the harrowing experience. So far, there has been only silence.

“No one has said that they don’t want to play but that may change because it is going to be difficult,” said Coyle.

“If anyone feels it is too much for them, there would be no problem. They just have to let us know. We would do the right thing by them.”

Muamba’s remains in intensive care in the London Chest Hospital but a consultant said he was hopeful that, in time, the player would make a full recovery.