Bolton Wanderers’ signing Elias Kachunga may have to wait a bit longer for his first start, with boss Ian Evatt telling the Manchester Evening News that it will likely come in his side’s Papa John’s Trophy game against Port Vale.
That fixture will be held on August 31 – meaning that the 29-year-old clearly isn’t quite there yet in terms of his fitness.
The German found himself without a club in the off-season thanks to Sheffield Wednesday’s relegation. Despite featuring in 27 games for the Owls over the course of their 2020/21 relegation campaign, he made only nine starts and once their drop to the third tier was confirmed, they decided he was expendable and let him go.
It’s meant that rather than undergoing the usual pre-season schedule and routine that would bring the player back up to match fitness, he has had to watch on from the sidelines and wait for a new club to give him a chance.
That chance has come with League One Bolton, who have added him to their squad as they look to try and kick on and fight towards the top end of the third tier this season.
However, since putting pen-to-paper, this lack of fitness has meant he has been resigned to only substitute appearances for his new club.
Coming off the bench three times so far, Ian Evatt has now told the Manchester Evening News that he expects that to continue until their fixture against Port Vale. He said: “It is a tough one because of the magnitude of the games we have got coming up.
“The hard thing for him is that it is a condensed fixture list at this stage of the season, so we are not doing a lot of training – so his fitness is not increasing other than with game time and doing bits and bobs in between.
“Obviously there is the Papa John’s Trophy coming up, which we have earmarked for Kacha, definitely the Port Vale one, for him to play 90 and then hopefully he won’t be far away.”
Elias Kachunga represents some solid business for Bolton during the transfer window. Although he might not get the pulses racing as much as some other players, he could be exactly what Wanderers need in their pursuit of second tier football again.
The 29-year-old has accumulated over 100 Championship appearances during his career so far for the likes of Huddersfield Town and his last club Sheffield Wednesday. Add in an additional two seasons and 39 games of Premier League football and his experience could be absolutely vital to Ian Evatt’s charges this year.
He offers a calm and collected presence in the middle of the field and he knows exactly what it takes to cut it at a higher level and that’s something which could prove important in crucial games for his new side this year or even during a potential play-off run or title battle.
Him being sidelined for the time being is certainly a blow, as it would be interesting to see how much he could offer given a full 90 minutes. For now though, it is certainly important to ensure he does reach that full fitness needed to play an important part for his side for the remainder of the campaign – especially if Bolton do indeed find themselves at the right end of the table this campaign.