Is pre-season the last chance for Tim Ream to prove his worth to Wanderers?

Laurence Griffiths

With Matt Mills looking likely to leave and defensive cover already brought in for the fullback areas, is pre-season the last chance for Tim Ream to really prove his worth to Dougie Freedman and the Wanderers faithful?

It is probably fair to say that Tim Ream's impact on Bolton Wanderers has been minimal at best. Bought from The New York Red Bulls by Owen Coyle in January 2012, while Bolton were still a Premier League side, Ream came with a decent reputation behind him from his time in the MLS.

Ream was described as a ball playing centre back with a bit of pace about him and it seemed that he could be the perfect replacement for the departing Gary Cahill. He made his league debut on 28th February against Chelsea, and formed a partnership with David Wheater which would be the first choice pairing for the rest of the season. Ream played the full 90 minutes in all the games. This partnership, whilst not perfect, did have its good moments and showed promise.

Despite a few solid games, it could also be seen that there were significant weaknesses in Ream's skill set. Whilst he is composed on the ball and quite quick for a centre back, he lacks physical presence, and against stronger opposition he does struggle. Unfortunately the rigours of the Premier League were too much for Ream and the rest of the Bolton side. We were relegated on the final day.

Coming into a new season in a new league, the Championship seemed to be the best place for Ream to start again and stake a claim to be first choice centre back. An injury to David Wheater in the penultimate game of the previous season meant that they were unable to build on their partnership. Bolton had also signed Matt Mills from Leicester, casting further doubt over Ream's place in the side. Despite this he started the first game, a loss against Burnley, alongside Zat Knight. Poor form and the arrival of Mills meant that Tim's chances were limited and in total he only managed 13 appearances over the course of the season, filling in due to injury for the most part.

The majority of fans I have spoken to feel that Tim Ream is not good enough and it would be best to move him on. I am willing to give him one last chance. He is under contract until 2015 so we might as well try to get the most out of him. With Matt Mills looking increasingly likely to leave for Leeds, we are left with Knight, Wheater and Ream as recognised centre backs. I am aware that Ricketts and Baptiste (once confirmed) are capable there, but they should be used as fullbacks primarily.

I know many fans are still holding out hope that we can get Craig Dawson back, and he is still high on Dougie's priority list, but until then we can only go with what we have. If Tim can improve his strength over the summer break and re-kindle his partnership with Wheater or form a new one with Knight, we may yet see the best of him. This is his last chance to impress and with many fans already writing him off, he's going to have to do it quickly.

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