BURNLEY boss Owen Coyle last night attempted to steer clear of speculation about the vacant position at Bolton Wanderers in a bid to focus on Saturday’s FA Cup third round tie at MK Dons.
Coyle was linked with a return to his former club yesterday after boss Gary Megson was sacked with Bolton in the Premier League relegation zone.
Speculation was almost inevitable given Coyle’s exploits with Bolton during his playing career.
The Scot, whose Burnley side are two points above Bolton after winning promotion last season, is a popular figure with Trotters fans after scoring in the play-off final when they reached the Premier League in 1995.
Along with former Blackburn Rovers and Manchester City manager Mark Hughes, he is one of two clear favourites among Bolton supporters to succeed Megson.
But – with a number of other names also linked, including former Trotters midfielder Peter Reid – Coyle is further down many of the betting lists after ruling himself out of the running for both the Celtic and Scotland jobs within the past year and signing a new four-year deal with Burnley in the summer.
And the 43-year-old was reluctant to talk about Bolton yesterday, telling the Lancashire Telegraph: “I’ve got nothing to say on that really.
"It would not be right for me to say anything.
“I’m happy to talk about my team and we’ve been preparing for the MK Dons game at training today.”
Asked whether he could rule himself out, Coyle insisted that he did not wish to say any more on the subject as he wanted to concentrate on Burnley’s weekend fixture at MK Dons.
Bolton chairman Phil Gartside is thought to be keen to appoint a new boss in the next couple of weeks and is known to admire Coyle’s ability after recommending the previously little-known manager – then boss of St Johnstone – to Burnley two years ago after Steve Cotterill’s departure.
Coyle has long appeared settled at Burnley after establishing a great rapport with the Clarets fans and enjoying incredible success on the field, including last season’s promotion to the Premier League and the club’s run to the Carling Cup semi-finals.
He faced his former club for the first time when Burnley drew 1-1 with Bolton on Boxing Day and said in his programme notes that day: “Winning the play-off final (in 1995) and scoring at Wembley was a terrific memory of that era and Bolton are a club I still have a great affection for.
“But all my efforts are now focused on Burnley Football Club.”
Coyle’s former Bolton team-mate Andy Walker believes the Scot will not want to move to the Reebok.
“He was given the opportunity to become the Celtic manager in the summer and he didn’t take it,” said Walker.
“I’m sure all the supporters at Bolton would love Owen Coyle to return to the Reebok and take up the reins there.
"But Owen is a very loyal type of guy and I think he’ll stick with Burnley.
“He knows he’s got a huge job there for such a small club in comparison to everyone else in the Premier League.
“They don’t spend a lot of money but he’ll be given a great deal of time there and I think in time Owen will go on to bigger and better things.
“For now, he will stick with Burnley and try to keep them up. That would be a huge achievement.”