Coyle calls for mental strength from Bolton ahead of Blackburn relegation clash

The Scot will ask his players if they are emotionally prepared to take the field before selecting a team to face Steve Kean's side but has reiterated the importance of the match

Owen Coyle has asked his Bolton players to show mental strength as they head into Saturday's relegation six-pointer against Blackburn in the wake of Fabrice Muamba's collapse

One week after Muamba suffered a cardiac arrest on the White Hart Lane pitch, the Trotters face their local rivals in a game which could have a huge impact on who retains their Premier League status come the end of the season.

And Coyle wants his players to show mental strength rather than let thoughts over their colleague and friend creep into their performance.

"I've been asked how to prepare the players after such a traumatic event, and the answer to that is 'with difficulty', no question," Coyle told the Daily Mirror.

"It goes without saying that it is not going to be an easy transition. It is what it is.

"The first thoughts, even on Saturday, will be with Fabrice and making sure that recovery continues. But equally, we have to go and play a game. It is as simple as that.

"Is it difficult circumstances? Yes. But it pales into insignificance compared to the fight Fabrice has had.

"We have to go and play the game and do our best in the match."

Coyle will ask his players if they are emotionally prepared to take the field and admitted he would not force any to play them if they are not in the right state of mind.

He continued: "The one thing I stressed when I spoke to them as a group is that we are all individuals and people react in different ways - emotionally and in a whole range of aspects.

"I said to them that if anybody felt it had been too traumatic or they needed somebody to speak to, they only had to let me know and I would listen.

"If somebody is not ready, they won't play. Simple as that.

"I would never ask any of my players to play if they are not ready for the game."

The Scot also thanked every football club and fan alike for the support shown towards Muamba and his team following the events of last weekend.

Coyle added: "I have to personally thank every football club, and the people who have showed their support with the T-shirts and everything else, and the fact that Fabrice is in everybody's thoughts.

"There will be something [to honour Muamba] before the match.

"Whatever the club decide to do, all and good and well, but Fabrice knows how we all feel. His family certainly do.

"How we get the players to focus is something we'll find out in the next couple of days. What's vital was that Fabrice would recover.

"This is a football game. We'll go and play the football game. We'll play it to the best of our abilities.

"But it's a football match."