The problem with loan players is that they often leave just as quickly as they came in. This may not be much of an issue when it comes to the likes of much-maligned Danny Butterfield or Robert Hall, who has not yet left the bench for Bolton. Where it does become an issue is when those loan players become some of the most influential parts of your team.
Wanderers fans experienced it in the past with the likes of Jack Wilshere and Daniel Sturridge and will now go through it once more with Craig Dawson and Jay Spearing returning to their parent clubs. The former's three month loan has come to an end while the latter leaves for treatment.
Jay Spearing's broken toe was always going to keep him out for the rest of the regular season. The initial diagnosis was a three week lay-off as the toe healed. However, it now looks like that injury will keep the man that was arguably Bolton's player of the season out for even longer. If Bolton Wanderers do make the playoffs, the Liverpool loanee will miss the semi-finals.
Spearing shared his devastation with the Bolton News:
"I'd do anything to play a part in the final. If we get there, and I'm given a slight chance, I'd take it.
"When I heard the news that my toe was broken in three places I was absolutely devastated.
"The way the lads were playing and the way we were going towards the play-offs, it was horrible to think I wasn't going to play a part.
"But, hopefully, I can still do something. Any way I could be involved, as long as the gaffer wanted me to come back in - I'll be there."
Bolton picked up Jay Spearing on a year-long loan on deadline day at the end of the summer transfer window. Over the course of the season, Jay Spearing made 37 appearances for Bolton in the league and scored two crucial goals for the Trotters. Of course, it wasn't his goal-scoring record that endeared the midfielder to the fans. It was instead his tenacity, willingness to win the ball, and consistent work-rate.
Craig Dawson was signed on a three month loan deal in late January but didn't make his Bolton Wanderers debut until two weeks later. It's no coincidence that Dawson's first start was also the beginning of the Trotters' romp up the Championship table. That first appearance, coming in the 2-1 home win against Burnley, saw Dawson show his strength on defense and threat from set pieces. Dawson would score four goals (coming in three games) for Bolton, including the eventual match-winners against Peterborough and Barnsley.
It's fair to say that Bolton Wanderers would not be in the position that they are in now without the tremendous play of Craig Dawson and Jay Spearing. Both players were, on the whole, excellent over the course of their respective stays.
However, Bolton Wanderers fans should not be too worried about the absence of the two loanees. Medo Kamara has proven to be an excellent purchase by Dougie Freedman, really showing his skill in Spearing's absence. As for the defense, David Wheater is on his way back from a long-term injury. He has played some substitute minutes here and there but will soon make his full season debut.