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Conor Wilkinson to return to Bolton next week

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Young Wanderers striker Conor Wilkinson is due to return to the Macron next week following a loan spell at Oldham Athletic, but can the youngster challenge for a first-team place?

Young striker Conor Wilkinson (r) is set to return to Bolton next week
Young striker Conor Wilkinson (r) is set to return to Bolton next week
Friedemann Vogel

Bolton Wanderers have certainly been struggling for goals this season, with Joe Mason still the only striker to have scored from open play after ten league games. So the news that Conor Wilkinson is set to return to the club could well be a welcome boost.

Wilkinson impressed in pre-season for Bolton including scoring a screamer against Rochdale, but he was allowed to go out on loan to get game time at Oldham Athletic by former manager Dougie Freedman. In four league games at Oldham, Wilkinson failed to score a goal but has done enough to impress Latics boss Lee Johnson, who has hinted he wants the striker to return to Boundary Park for another loan spell.

It certainly makes sense for the new manager to have Wilkinson available to him, in case he feels the 19-year-old can add something to a squad devoid of confidence. Youth is something that will be vital to Bolton as we look to dig ourselves out of the mess we find ourselves in. We need young players that are hungry to be playing football week-in and week-out, and will put in a shift for the team.

It's probably unlikely Wilkinson will be given a chance, but I'm sure most Bolton fans would like to see youngsters given an opportunity in the first-team over players like Jermaine Beckford, who consistently looks uninterested.

Most of the striker leg work has been thrown onto Craig Davies in the last few weeks, who all too frequently cuts a dejected, lonely figure at the top of the Bolton attack. It's clear that Davies needs support up front, be it from a strike partner or from midfield.

One thing is certain from a tactical point of view, and that is that Joe Mason cannot play the lone striker role. Whether Wilkinson will be able to provide competition to Davies as the man to support Mason up top remains to be seen, but I feel we could do worse than giving the kid a chance given the current lack of goals from our forwards.