Bolton Wanderers will be looking to win promotion back into the third-tier of English football this season under the management of Ian Evatt.
The Trotters are well-placed to do just that, with the club sat fourth in the League Two table, and level on points with third-placed Tranmere Rovers, who occupy one of the automatic promotion places with seven matches remaining in this year’s campaign.
Bolton have had a number of players perform to a high standard this term, with some of the clubs loanees catching the eye with some strong performances.
Declan John is one of those, with the defender being on loan from Championship side Swansea City, with the Welshman making 15 appearances in total for Evatt’s side.
Whilst Bolton also have West Ham United’s Oladapo Afolayan on loan at the club as well, with the 23-year-old making 14 appearances in all competitions this term, whilst chipping in with two assists so far in his spell with the Trotters.
Speaking in a recent interview (quotes sourced from the Manchester Evening News), Evatt revealed that Bolton would be better-placed to sign both John and Afolayan if they were promoted into League One this season.
“We would be in a much better position if we got promoted, there is no doubt about that. Dec is a fantastic footballer who has had some big clubs for a relatively young age.
“Things haven’t panned out at Swansea how he would have liked but thanks to the club because they have sacrificed a lot of salary that we haven’t been able to cover.
“He has improved since he has been here, which is great, and he is becoming a real proper player. He is still learning and at 25 he still has loads of time ahead but his ambition is to play as high as he can and get back into the Wales team. We want to give him the platform to do that.”
“Dapo had loans as a younger player that didn’t really turn out. He went back and worked really hard on his game with the West Ham Under-23s, scored in the first team in the FA Cup, and he has enjoyed himself here, played with a smile on his face.
“Both players have really helped get this club up the division and fighting for promotion and obviously we would like to keep them both, no doubt about that, but it will be a lot easier discussion in League One.”
Bolton are set to return to action on Saturday afternoon, when they take on Harrogate Town at the University of Bolton Stadium, in what could potentially be a tricky test for Ian Evatt’s side.
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They’ll be eager to keep them at the club.
Both Oladapo Afolayan and Declan John have really impressed me this season in League One, and I think they’ll be more than good enough to play their football in League One next season.
However, if Bolton aren’t to win promotion into the third-tier this term, then I do fear that they could struggle to keep both players at the club next season.
It’s a season-defining few weeks, and I can see the Trotters finishing in the automatic promotion places by the time this year’s campaign is over.