Bolton Wanderers have confirmed that Zat Knight, Chris Eagles, Tyrone Mears and Jay Lynch won't be staying with the club next season, and André Moritz', Stuart Holden's and Arran Lee-Barrett's futures are still up in the air. With that news, I've decided to have a look at every position in our squad and evaluate which positions we should focus our resources on over the summer. Spoilers, it isn't centre midfield.
Adam Bogdan, Andy Lonergan, Arran Lee-Barrat (at least for now), Eric Bukran
Although Bolton have released a second young goalkeeper in as many years, in the shape of Jay Lynch, we have more than enough quality between the sticks. Adam Bogdan has proven himself to his doubters since returning from injury and has matured into a dominant and reliable number one, and we must keep him for next season; Andy Lonergan is great cover to have, and although a bit shaky at times, some of the saves he has made this year have been remarkable; if Lee-Barrett re-signs then he's a good third choice to have as he's experienced, fairly capable and will probably be content with being a third choice and if things get so bad that we end up with all three of them out, then we've got the promising Eric Bukran in the youth too.
Verdict: So we're pretty well stocked with goalkeepers and if all of them stay we're fine in that department.
Alex Baptiste, Oscar Threlkeld, Hayden White, Joe Riley
In my first ever post for LoVS I commented on how much we needed new fullbacks, but now with the emergence of Threlkeld and White this season, I don't think we need to sign any. In the last two games Threlkeld's played quite well and hasn't looked out of his depth at all, White has looked a bit more shaky but his circumstances were harder and I still believe he performed admirably. We still have Baptiste, although I think Freedman will get rid if anyone should come in for him. He's an okay right back at this level and does have experience, so I wouldn't be totally opposed to him staying. And then of course we've got Joe Riley, who did look promising but has been very unlucky with injuries the last two years. I would like to see him get another chance in pre-season/next year, to see if he's still up to it.
Verdict: I'd be more than happy going into next season with Threlkeld as our first choice right back, with the other three being second choices. He's proven himself capable in the last two games and it saves us shelling out money on a position that isn't in great need of more additions.
Matt Mills, David Wheater, Tim Ream, Cian Bolger, Oscar Threlkeld
With Knight's departure we're now left with three senior centre backs in the club, them being Mills and Wheater (who have to be the first choice partnership next season) and my man, Ream. I think all three are of a decent quality and are quite good at this level, but with all three of them having picked up a few injuries in the past, another senior centre back may be needed. I wouldn't be against another youngster in Bolger, stepping up to be fourth choice and there is Threlkeld too, who is primarily a centre back.
Verdict: I'd be be happy going into the season with what we've got and spending our little money else where, but I could see someone coming in to add up the numbers.
Marc Tierney, Tim Ream, Andy Kellet
Left back is a position we've struggled with this year, with Tierney being out for so long and Baptiste being dreadful there. It's been up to Ream to try and stop the rot, and it did have mixed results although on a whole, I think he played very well. Deciding whether we should add a left back or not is quite a hard decision though, Tierney is a good, very solid left back and is great for this level but he's been out for so long now, and we don't know how far away from full-fitness he is or if he will ever fully-recover from his injury. Actually, after saying all that, it's not that hard at all, we probably do need another left back because even though Ream can play there and we do have Kellet who is primarily a left back, I don't think we can go through a farce like we did this season again and end up with Baptiste playing there.
Verdict: A left back should be brought in, hopefully a versatile one who could cover other positions if needed.
Jay Spearing, Medo, Mark Davies, Darren Pratley, Josh Vela, Stuart Holden (at least for now), Keith Andrews
I think it's fair to say, that we're pretty good on midfielders. I imagine Andrews will be off out again next year either on loan or for good, and we'll bring in Liam Trotter on a free, which I'd be very happy about, oh, and we'll probably get Andy Robinson back in on a free too, and then we're sorted as the midfield goes. Spearing will no doubt lead the team as skipper next year so he is certain to start, then it could be out of any of the others who start along side him. Personally, I'd love to see Vela get some more game time next season after the rave reviews he's got from his time at Notts County. We just have to hope that we fight off any interest for Davies. With regards to Holden, I'd give him one more year to see if he can get back to full fitness. I do love that man.
Verdict: Andrews out, Trotter in, probably Robinson in too. All that needs to be done in centre midfield.
Chung-Yong Lee, Neil Danns, André Moritz (at least for now), Rob Hall, Andy Kellet, Chris Lester, Sanmi Odelusi
I can see there being a bit of movement in this department over the summer: Eagles has already gone, Moritz could go either way and I think we should cash in on Lee, so replacements are going to be needed. We're going to have to sign at least one established winger in the window, possibly two depending on how the window plays out, and due to the fact that Hall hasn't been very good at all lately. Again however, I would like to see youth team players given a go here, especially Kellet, who lit up The Reebok on Saturday. I would also like us to keep Moritz, as I think, although he has some glaring flaws, he offers a spark of creativity unlike most of our other players, but I know I'm in the minority with that opinion.
Verdict: At least one winger needed, possibly two.
Jermaine Beckford, Marvin Sordell, Craig Davies, Tom Eaves, Georg Iliev, Zach Clough, Conor Wilkinson
Much like the attacking midfielders/wingers, I expect they'll be lots of outs and hopefully some ins with the strikers. I'd imagine Sordell, Davies and Eaves will all be moved on if we can find buyers as they've all been a pretty big waste of time and I wouldn't be surprised if Beckford left either, even though I do think we should keep him, but again I'm in the minority. That leaves us with a whopping zero senior strikers if all that happens, and even though Iliev, Clough and Wilkinson have tremendous potential and I hope they are involved next year, it's suicidal to go into a season with a strike force with no experience. So strikers are a must buy. And we all know who we want. Lukas Jutkiewicz. I honestly believe how well we do next season hinges on whether we can re-sign him or not, it's pivotal. He fits into our team perfectly and has such brilliant ability; his versatility and work rate alone are priceless. An absolute must. But we'll also probably need another striker to partner him too, the Juke's best form for us came when he was playing along side Mason, as their two playing styles complemented each other brilliantly. We're more than likely going to need a striker in a similar mold to Mason next season as well, if we hope to do anything.
Verdict: Jutkiewicz an absolute must, probably going to need another striker too.
Overall Verdict: Over the summer we need to concentrate our little resources on signing at least one winger, two strikers and a fullback, preferably a versatile one; with the Juke being the number one, must buy target. And as I don't think I've mentioned it enough, I'd love to see the youth team players step up and have a more important role with in the squad.
Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments below or shout at me on Twitter: @Murbroski