It is a well-known rule in the English Football League that only five players on loan from other clubs may feature in a match day squad of 18 players. Most of the time, for most clubs, this is not really an issue. Unfortunately, for Bolton Wanderers and their manager Neil Lennon, this season it has become an issue. Unlike Watford FC's blatant attempts to game the system in the past, Bolton's troubles have been the result of a nearly unprecedented injury crisis.
At this point in the season, there are only two ways to cope with a decimated first team; a) Promote players from the youth system., b) Sign more players on loan. Lennon has tried both methods, and had some success (as well as some failure) with each. But everyone even remotely close to being ready to execute option A has already been tried, so option B is really all that remains.
Despite being continually disappointed by Crystal Palace rejects under the Dougie Freedman regime, Wanderers have decided to go back to the pot one more time, in hopes that a new manager will yield new results. 31-year-old central defender Paddy McCarthy has just about completed a deal to join Bolton on loan for the remainder of the season. Marc Iles of the Bolton News is reporting that the Irishman could go straight into the squad against Blackburn Rovers on Wednesday night.
This could be a decent enough signing, or completely insignificant. One likely fact about it: Even if Matt Mills and Dorian Dervite stay fit, and McCarthy never actually appears in a match, he will have to be on the sub's bench in order to provide defensive cover, just in case. That leaves four spots for loan players. Ben Amos is our only option in goal at the moment. Three spots. Barry Bannan has been very good in midfield since he came over, and appears an automatic choice going forward. Two spots. Saidy Janko has impressed as well, and while he may not start every match, I can't see him not being in the 18. One spot. The same is true of Adam Le Fondre. And that leaves no spot in the 18 to even be divided amongst Giles Coke, Simon Slavchev and Rochinha.
Neil Lennon is going to have some tough decisions to make.