Kevin McNaughton Side-lined for Up To 4 weeks

'The silver haired fox' - Chris Brunskill

Kevin McNaughton is set to be out for up to 4 weeks after he strained his thigh playing against Millwall on Saturday.

Many of you at the game would have seen the 31-year-old hobbling around upfront on Saturday as a make shift striker after Dougie Freedman had made all 3 of his substitutions. After originally assuming that he was suffering from cramp this news comes as a bitter blow. This injury leaves Freedman short of senior options and may see a few youngsters given a chance unless the emergency loan system is called upon.

McNaughton, who has played every minute for the Wanderers since his arrival, will be out until mid-December, meaning that a short term replacement is desperately needed. Joe Riley and Marc Tierney are both still out with their respective injuries, this only leaves 4 options.

1. Time Ream moves to left back.  That would mean that Zat Knight or David Wheater would take his position in the middle with Alex Baptiste staying on the right.

2. Freedman could give Tyrone Mears a final chance.  Freedman has recently spoken about Mears in the press and admitted he’d be one of the first names out of the door as he prepares for a January clear-out.  Depending on his fitness and attitude he could be in line for a return at either full back position.

3. The youngsters could be given a chance.  Hayden White and Andy Kellett spring to mind, both are very highly thought of at the club, but is it worth the gamble?

4. Freedman goes back into the loan market.  This is the most likely move.  The Wanderers have 1 remaining slot for a loanee and still have time until the emergency loan deadline passes. After being heavily linked with him at the start of the season we may see Freedman try to sign Southampton left back Danny Fox. The 27 year old has been out of the team and has an uncertain future after teenager Luke Shaw penned a new five-year deal at the club.

Now, how did Kevin McNaughton get injured?  The collision happened in the latter stages of the game on Saturday when McNaughton came out second best after a 50/50.  He’ll miss key games against Watford, Middlesbrough, Huddersfield Town and Doncaster Rovers after the players return from international duty. We may have already seen the last of McNaughton in a Bolton shirt with the risk of Cardiff recalling him in the wake of his injury. His current loan deal runs until December 28th with it being unclear whether he’ll make a full recovery before then.

Since his debut against Blackpool McNaughton has featured in every minute for the first team and has been a major factor to our recent good run of form. With McNaughton we've taken 12 points from a possible 18 and  3rd place in the form table.

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