2. Kevin McNaughton

Clint Hughes

Name: Kevin McNaughton

Squad Number: 2

Position: Defender

Nationality: Scottish

Contract Expires: July 2015

The silver fox, as nicknamed by his fellow pro's and now Bolton Wanderers fans, is likely to be our first choice right back this season.
He offers a steady, calming influence on the defence and has six years experience of playing in the Championship for Cardiff to draw upon after signing from Aberdeen in May 2006 on a free transfer after he ran down his contract with the Pittodrie outfit.
He previously had 7 fruitful years after progressing through to the first team from the Dons youth set up.
His signing fills the gap left by Alex Baptiste's season long loan move to local rivals Blackburn Rovers, putting pen to paper at The Macron Stadium the very next day after his departure.

Some fans may think he is older due to his longevity in the game already and his long standing, trademark grey locks but he turns just 32 towards the back end of August.
Known as a consummate professional and a reliable '7 out of 10' man by Dougie Freedman, he was snapped up after the success of his 3 month loan spell last year between September and December on a season long loan by his fellow Scot as soon as he was given encouragement from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer that he would be willing to let him leave, despite only just agreeing terms on a one year contract extension.

McNaughton scored his only goal in Bolton colours against Charlton on the 21st December 2013, the equaliser in a 1-1 draw.
His composed curling finish was his first goal for over five and a half years and was greeted with elation by the full-back.

He was recalled shortly after by Solskjaer and made his long awaited Premier a League debut the very next game at The Emirates against Arsenal.
By all accounts he acquitted himself well in the exalted company and showed Solskjaer that his huge experience and knowledge of the game were indeed important attributes to have amongst the ranks of a newly promoted club.

The feeling amongst Bluebirds fans is that they see their loss as the Trotters' gain and on social media many seemed sad to realise that he may have played his last game in the blue/red of Cardiff City.

McNaughton has been brought in by Freedman primarily to organise and cajole the rest of the defence and his main focus will be on the defensive side of the game. The Bolton boss told the Bolton Evening News that he was the type of player who 'made the other players play better'.
He isn't the type of attacking full back that will get the fans off their seats but since he re-signed Bolton's defence in pre-season, aside from a crazy 25 minute spell versus Mjallby in Sweden on his first start back at the club, the defence has not conceded more than one goal in any game he has been involved in.

Fans will hope his ability to marshall the defence and his own quality of marking and defending will mean fewer wingers than last season such as Middlesbrough's Mustapha Carayol or Michail Antonio of Sheffield Wednesday are given the licence to wreak havoc on the opposition left wing and are given less opportunity to set up multiple chances, score themselves or draw penalties which the likes of the unfortunate Baptiste ultimately conceded time and again.

McNaughton's performance in today's disappointing team performance against Vitesse Arnhem was a high point defensively with a crucial interception to deny a certain goal after Vitesse broke clear almost two on one towards the end of the first half through Leerdam.
That was after he had actually played Vitesse onside but his eagerness to make amends for his only real error in the game bodes well for shoring up a defence whom just couldn't seem to conjure up a clean sheet last season.

Concentration, composure, timing of the challenge and positional sense seem to be his obvious main attributes and leadership could be added to these as an elder statesman of the team, although this may only show up after his second 'settling in' period.

His style of play is measured and composed but to my mind he hasn't particularly made a lot of overlapping runs and isn't known for his crossing ability but with the shield of Spearing and Medo or Liam Trotter in front of what should be a settled back four he should have the freedom to venture forward more often and look to make more overlapping runs.
Fans will demand this of him even more so if the midfield lacks the spark and creativity it certainly did in today's game, although this was understandable without the energetic effervescence of Mark Davies to call upon.
Luckily his pace has not faded as quickly as his hair colour and he does have the ability and wherewithal to be able to contribute more going forward, as seen by his strike against Charlton which he took with the aplomb of a seasoned striker.

What McNaughton adds also is versatility as he can cover at left back too and has sometimes deputised in a defensive midfield role a while back when at Cardiff but with The Whites so well stocked in that area it is unlikely he will be asked to play out of his natural full-back position.

Most Wanderers fans seem pleased to have him back at the club and the Dundee born man will no doubt be looking to reciprocate the fans happiness that has greeted his return with a solid season to ensure the offer of a new contract will be forthcoming at the expiry of his loan deal, which will coincide with the end of his Cardiff contract.

The Scotsman is a solid and shrewd addition in my opinion and right back is now a position Freedman need not worry about with Oscar Threlkeld and Hayden White pushing on well and the re-emergence of fit again academy product Joe Riley, who should get plenty of game time at Oxford until January. Some supporters may see McNaughton as a stop gap until one of these three youngsters shows enough promise and consistency for an extended chance in the first team while some may even see his signing as a blockade to any one of these young talents' progress at the club.
Whichever way you look at it though, McNaughton is someone who won't let the team, club or his boss down and you can't have enough of those in your squad.

Written by Lee Tennant

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