Peterborough United manager Grant McCann is expecting his players to star on TV in the final League One game of the season at promotion-chasing Bolton on Sunday (April 30, noon kick off).
Bolton require a point from the match at the Macron Stadium to secure an immediate return to the Championship, hence the presence of Sky Sports’ cameras.
But McCann believes that will work in his side’s favour. Posh have registered three wins and a draw in their four live TV appearances this season, although all four have been screened from the ABAX Stadium.
Bolton were among the small screen victims when a solitary goal from full-back Michael Smith secured a 1-0 Posh win back in November. Bury (3-1) and Notts County (2-0, in the FA Cup) and Swindon (2-2) were Posh’s other opponents.
Smith is likely to again be a victim of McCann’s wish to continue an experiment with a 3-5-2 formation on Sunday.
He employed it for the first time in last Saturday’s 4-2 win over Bristol Rovers at the ABAX, a result that has guaranteed Posh an 11th-place finish.
McCann said: “The decision to screen the game live definitely helps us.
“It’s an extra motivation for us and we have been good in the live TV games this season.
“There’s a lot on the game for Bolton obviously, but we have our own incentives. For a start a win would enable us to beat the points tally of the last two seasons.
“It’s a tough game for us of course, but we beat them earlier this season when we nullified their strengths and played well ourselves. We deserved to beat them that day. They are strong defensively (they have the best defensive record in League One) and they are excellent at set-pieces, but in my opinion the division has been much of a muchness this season with the exception of an outstanding Sheffield United side.
“Bolton have shown greater consistency than the rest. That’s been the difference, but we are going up to try and win the game. If we can stay strong at the back we believe we can hurt them going forward.
“I might try the 3-5-2 formation again. Considering we’d only worked on it for two days, the lads played it well against Rovers. It’s a formation I could use next season depending on the players I bring in during the summer.
“A lot of the skills needed to make wing-backs work are the same as those needed to make a midfield diamond work work so it’s certainly something worth considering.”
Powerful centre-back Ryan Tafazolli was a key man when Posh withstood Bolton’s aerial barrage at the ABAX, but he’s unlikely to be risked from the start on Sunday after struggling with a groin injury over the last month.
McCann added: “Ryan and Gwion Edwards could probably play at Bolton, but I don’t see the point in risking them. They will travel and they might sit on the bench. but I’d rather they were guaranteed to be ready to go next season.”