Rome wasn’t built in a day, but a good chunk of the Bolton side that has featured this season was.
In the January transfer window, we’ll have the relative luxury of a whole month to do any business, and being realistic, conversations could well have been had with potential recruits before that. But it looks like a lot of business will have to be done one way or another.
Firstly, the players that were here on loan. Thibaud Verlinden has gone back to Stoke, and it reads like he won’t be coming back,
“I’ve really enjoyed my time at Bolton Wanderers, and I wish the club all the best for the future. Not only have I become a better player during my time with the club, but I’ve also become a better person.” Nice words, but not as nice as “I’ll be back.”
It would be interesting to see if Verlinden figures in the FA Cup this weekend. If he does, or any game for Stoke this month, it means he won’t be able to go out on loan to any other club except for us, which could offer a ray of light, and he would be welcomed back with open arms. Michael O’Neill probably has plans for him though.
Liam Bridcutt may also not be coming back. Injury prone but good at what he does, Keith Hill has seemingly indicated other clubs are interested, and he’d surely want to test himself at Championship level, or even just play higher up this division. There’s no chance though that he will play for parent club Nottingham Forest, who are well stocked in midfield and going very well.
In more positive news, Josh Earl wants to stay here, and it’s down to Keith Hill (who surely would want to keep him) and Preston (who have two players at left-back already) – he will surely see out the season in our white shirt rather than theirs’
Jake Wright probably is a similar situation to Bridcutt. He won’t get a game in the Premier League with Sheffield United so it would be down to again, Hill wanting to retain his services (and Hill was the one who signed him and is playing him), or Wright thinking he could get a loan move somewhere better.
Then there’s the short term contracts. Will Buckley and Adam Chicksen have deals that run out very soon, but Chicksen has got back into the starting XI at the right time and will surely sign on for at least another six months, while Will Buckley has come back from injury at the right time. Buckley should be good enough and versatile for this league, but is he simply too injury-prone when we have a limited number of spots.
Should Wright, Earl, Chicksen and Buckley be all around for the rest of the season, we’d still arguably need: a keeper to replace Ben Alnwick, an attacking midfielder especially in the continuing absence of Ali Crawford, another striker and another wide forward/winger to replace Verlinden. That’s then four players at a minimum