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What Does the Future Hold for Josh Vela?

The academy graduate has a bright future, but in which position?

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I like Josh Vela.

I've followed his career with great interest since he first came to prominence as 'one to watch' around 2010 back when he was 17. Not to be a groupie or anything but we once had a spell of exchanging BBM messages and he promised me a signed shirt - yet to happen. Josh if you're reading - sort this out!

He has been with the club since he was a nipper, and Bolton Wanderers have been extremely kind to the young man. Salford-born Vela has been utilised as a midfielder throughout the majority of his time with us, and it is only through necessity that manager Neil Lennon has reinvented Josh as a marauding full back.

So what does the future hold for Josh Vela?

The absence of true quality in the holding midfield role at the club is a problem, and one that I think he can capitalise on. Obviously Lennon doesn't fancy either Jay Spearing or Medo Kamara, and is presently rotating the likes of Neil Danns and Darren Pratley in that holding role - one that neither player would describe as being their most 'natural'.

Despite this, the injury to Kevin McNaughton has allowed Vela the chance to make a name for himself in the first team, and in this day and age that is nothing to sniff at.

Dougie Freedman's preference to stock up on 65 different central midfielders stifled the progression of Josh, and rumours of training ground fall-outs with Freedman's lieutenant Jamie Fullarton perhaps hinted at an exit for the academy graduate - and this would have been a real shame.

The success of his loan spell at Notts County last year cannot be overstated either in terms of his development. Thrust into the midst of a struggling side, Vela made seven appearances and helped the club survive by three points under manager Shaun Derry who sung the praises of the youngster.

The range of his passing coupled with the energy he displays makes me think that midfield is the young Vela's destiny. The likelihood of one of Medo or Spearing leaving in January adds further weight to this. What was once an overstocked department could quickly become a sparse area of selection and this will be to the long-term benefits of one of our most promising graduates.

It seems Lenny agrees:

"He can handle the ball and I've seen him play midfield and he's an excellent player.

Once he puts a bit of beef on him, I tend to think we'll eventually see him in midfield."

I remember talk, not so long ago, that Liverpool had made a £1m bid for the then-16 year old Vela back in 2009. We've seen flashes of that sort of top division quality in his short Bolton Wanderers career thus far.

Our club has been a bit slack in promoting academy talent over the last few years, and in my humble opinion Josh Vela is the most likely to make a long-term career at the club.

Now, about that signed shirt.....