Bolton Wanderers manager Keith Hill says he wants Thibaud Verlinden to focus on his performances for the Trotters in the next few weeks, rather than a potential return to parent club Stoke City in January.
Verlinden joined Wanderers on loan from the Potters until January on the final day of the summer transfer window, and has made nine appearances in all competitions for the League One side so far this season, scoring twice.
Stoke’s decision to withdraw him from Bolton’s FA Cup defeat to Plymouth last week, meaning he will not be cup-tied later in the season – has prompted some speculation about a return to the Bet365 Stadium at the turn of the year.
But for now, Hill appears not to be too concerned about that, and when asked about Verlinden’s future, the Wanderers boss told the Bolton News: “They have got a new manager and obviously they want to have a look.
“I’m sure they will monitor how he is doing, their staff will do their due diligence, but for now he just has to concentrate on games.”
Indeed, it seems Bolton are already considering their approach for when the transfer window reopens in January, with Hill continuing by saying: “We have got a plan for Thibaud, as we have for all the players, and we’ve got a plan for January regardless of any implications that the EFL sanctions bring on us.”
Verlinden is one of a number of player’s whose future at Bolton is uncertain beyond the end of the season, although Hill appears in no rush to put attention onto that issue as his side battle to survive in League One this season, as the 50-year-old added: “The players themselves are important to us now, we don’t want to create chaos.
“It can become a mind-bomb if we start talking about players’ futures beyond next week. The focus then turns from team to ‘me’ and we don’t want that culture. It has to be about the team and sacrificial behaviour.
“When we get to a place where we can talk about individuals’ futures and contract, extending loan deals, we’ll do it when it’s appropriate.”
I do think Bolton will want to keep Verlinden beyond January if possible.
The winger has been hugely impressive since his arrival at the University of Bolton Stadium at the start of September, and his creativity, pace and delivery could be crucial if Wanderers are to stay up this season.
That however will inevitably have caught the attention of Stoke, who may feel that they too can use Verlinden in the second half of the season as they look to climb the table following the appointment of Michael O’Neill as the club’s new manager.
It also seems sensible for Bolton not to rush into any contract talks at the minute, given there is still plenty of uncertainty around the club at the minute, not least with regards to which division they will be in next season.