Leyton Orient’s Conor Wilkinson has revealed that multiple factors, including a lack of opportunities and his own short-comings, were to blame for his failed spell with Bolton Wanderers, speaking exclusively to Football League World.
The forward joined the Trotters from Millwall in 2013 and made his debut for the North West club as a teenager.
However, much of his four years on Bolton’s books were spent out on loan and when he left the club permanently in 2017 he had made just 17 appearances and not found the net once.
Speaking exclusively to Football League World, Wilkinson revealed why his career at the University of Bolton Stadium never really got going.
He said: “I think it was a bit of everything. I think I was partly to blame myself for my own action and it was partly not being played.
“I had three or four different managers in my time there. It was difficult because we were never really in a cemented position. In the season we got promoted from League One, I didn’t play as many games as I would have liked to but I played my part.
“In the Championship, I was only young. When Neil Lennon came he called me back from loan and gave me a chance but again physically I wasn’t up to the standards. I was only a young boy.
“I remember my debut, I played against Tyrone Mings. Someone played the ball down the side and he just went to me ‘you stay there’ and left me. I held my own but physically I was just nowhere near it.”
The forward is enjoying arguably the finest spell of his career with the O’s and, having found the net 10 times this season, has already surpassed his record EFL goal tally for a single season.
Wilkinson suggested that success has been down, in part, to a change in mindset following last year’s lockdown.
He explained: “Over lockdown, I realised how lucky I was and that’d I’d taken it for granted before. I wouldn’t go into every game thinking that today’s my chance, I’m going to take my chance and score. I’d let it pass me by maybe.
“But since lockdown happened and I was at home waiting to be back at football, I realised that I do need to start taking my chances and giving everything I have. I’m playing out of position and it’s probably my best season to date. I’ve really enjoyed it.
“(The good form has been due to) a mixture of things really. One the will to do well and being a bit more serious.”
Despite a brilliant first half of the 2020/21 campaign and an indication from Orient that they want to keep him, Wilkinson is out of contract in the summer and yet to pen a new deal meaning that three and a half years on from his time in the second tier with Bolton he could get the chance to return to the Championship at some point soon – a challenge that he would relish.