Yesterday's announcement of players to be released by Premier League clubs this summer could offer food for thought for Bolton Wanderers given the wafer thin nature of our current squad.
The list of players whose contracts expire on June 30th includes Premier League stalwarts, promising youngsters, a handful of former Wanderers, a host of unknown youngsters and former wonderkids, and several other intriguing options.
Here is our overview of players set for release by Premier League clubs and viable options we could see in a white shirt next season.
Players Released: Semi Ajayi, Abou Diaby, Jack Jebb, Austin Lipman, Ryo Miyaichi, Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill
Viable Options: The standout name here from a Wanderers perspective is former Whites loanee Ryo Miyaichi, who impressed at the Reebok only to see his career threaten to fade into significance. The Japanese winger is still only 22, and could benefit from a season in the Championship after making 22 appearances for Dutch side FC Twente in another loan spell last season. The only other option here could Semi Ajayi, who was once labelled the 'new Sol Campbell' and spent the last few months on loan at Cardiff City following interest from Sunderland. Whether Arsenal allow him to leave remains to be seen. With our recent injury woes in mind, Abou Diaby could be a target given that he's made an impressive one appearance in the last two seasons.
Players Released: Darren Bent (signed for Derby County), Graham Burke, Alfie Crooks, Chris Herd, Craig Hill, Bradley Lewis, Isaac Nehemie, Daniel O'Brien, Enda Stevens, Thomas Strain, Ron Vlaar (rumoured to be signing a new contract), Courtney Wildin
Viable Options: Villa's potential exits include another former Bolton loanee Chris Herd, who made his debut in the Carling Cup defeat at Chelsea and generally did okay during his brief loan spell. Fellow defender Daniel O'Brien, 19, has also been linked with Wanderers in recent months and attended a trial with the club back in April, playing an hour for our Under-21s against Brighton, but it's unknown whether he did enough to impress Neil Lennon. Left-back Enda Stevens was once rated as having potential similar to Seamus Coleman, but his career has slip-slided away and he's likely to drop down to League Two with Portsmouth.
Players Released: Cameron Howieson, Steven Reid (retired), Ross Wallace
Viable Options: The only possibility here could be former Celtic and Sunderland winger Ross Wallace, 30, who leaves Burnley after five years. His connections with the Glasgow club could stand us in good stead, and a Championship return could be a good option after he struggled to make the Burnley first team last season.
Released Players: Didier Drogba
Viable Options: Next club... Unless Eidur could have a word in his ear.
Players Released: Shola Ameobi, Michael Chambers, Kyle De Silva, Stephen Dobbie, Owen Garvan, Brede Hangeland, Lewis Price, Peter Ramage, Ghassimu Sow, Jerome Thomas
Viable Options: Given our penchant for strikers that don't score goals, Shola Ameobi could be an option. And if we wanted a useless midfielder that can't take penalties, then Owen Garvan could be our man. More positive options could be speedy winger Jerome Thomas, who has struggled at Premier League level and only made 10 appearances for Palace in three seasons.
Released Players: Antolin Alcaraz, Sylvain Distin, George Green, Curtis Langton, John Lundstram, Ben McLaughlin
Viable Options: Veteran defenders Antolin Alcaraz, 33 next month, and Sylvain Distin, 37, may be tempting options for many Championship clubs, as they struggled to cement first-team places in the season just gone. But they are very old, very slow, and/or very crap.
Players Released: Joseph Cracknell, Leon Dawson, Joe Dudgeon, Maynor Figueroa, Steve Harper, John Mahon, Jon Margetts, Eoghan McCawl, Paul McShane, Mark Oxley, Liam Rosenior, Yannick Sagbo, Sam Topliss
Viable Options: Following Hull's relegation back to the Championship their released list contains several interesting options that would certainly bolster Wanderers' squad, depending on wage demands. Central defender Paul McShane has been linked with a move to Reading and it was perhaps a surprise he was allowed to move on having played regularly towards the end of the season, while right-backs Maynor Figueroa and Liam Rosenior would certainly fill a hole at the Macron. Veteran keeper Steve Harper could also be a decent goalkeeping option should Adam Bogdan complete his proposed move to Liverpool.
Released Players: Zoumana Bakayogo, Marcel Barrington, Adam Dawson, Paul Gallagher, Kieran Kennedy, Conrad Logan, Herve Pepe-Ngoma, Louis Rowley, Gary Taylor-Fletcher, Matt Upson
Viable Options: Realistically, not a great deal. Most likely options would be former England defender Matt Upson, now 36, who only managed five appearances for the Foxes this season, and washed up Blackpool attacker Gary Taylor-Fletcher, 33, who struggled on loan at Millwall at the end of the season so isn't a worthwhile target.
Players Released: Steven Gerrard (signed for LA Galaxy), Glen Johnson, Brad Jones, Jordan Lussey, Marc Pelosi
Viable Options: Young midfielderJordan Lussey could be a realistic target for Lennon, after he spent the end of the season on loan at Bolton and impressed for our Development Squad. Brad Jones could also be a target if we're still on the lookout for a new goalkeeper.
Released Players: Adam Drury, John Guidetti, James Milner (signed for Liverpool), Frank Lampard (signed for New York City), Greg Leigh, Dominic Oduro, Micah Richards
Viable Options: Swedish striker John Guidetti had an excellent season on loan at Celtic, scoring 15 goals in 35 appearances. He could be an option for Championship sides but has been linked with a move to Europe, and it's likely his wage demands would price Wanderers out of a move for him anyway.
Released Players: Ben Amos, Tom Cleverley (signed for Everton), Callum Evans, Ryan McConnell, Tom Thorpe
Viable Options: The vast majority of Wanderers fans want Lennon to snap up goalkeeper Ben Amos now his United contract has expired and it looks like an increasingly likely option, especially if Bogdan moves on. United have also released their Under-21 captain Tom Thorpe, who many United fans wanted to see make the first team ahead of now Premier League regulars Tyler Blackett and Paddy McNair. Thorpe, 22, needs first team football and a Championship club would offer him exactly that, so this could be a realistic defensive option for Lennon.
Released Players: Jak Alnwick, Adam Campbell, Jonas Gutierrez, Remie Streete, Ryan Taylor
Viable Options: Wanderers' potential goalkeeping dilemmas could be answered in the form of Jak Alnwick, who impressed during Newcastle's goalkeeping crisis earlier this season. Newcastle have also released full-back Ryan Taylor and midfielder Jonas Gutierrez, who both overcame long-term injury and illness issues to return to the first-team towards the end of the season. Whether or not they are realistic targets will very much depend on their wage demands. Another intriguing option could be highly rated 20-year-old striker Adam Campbell, although he is rumoured to have been offered a trial by West Brom.
Released Players: Bruno Andrade, Joey Barton, Richard Dunne, Rio Ferdinand (retired), Jordan Gibbons, Karl Henry, Aaron Lennox, Brian Murphy, Jamie Sendles-White, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Bobby Zamora
Viable Options: QPR captain Joey Barton has been mentioned as a possible Bolton signing, but his likely wage demands make any move unlikely. Striker Bobby Zamora, 34, would certainly fit the mould of what Lennon is looking for in a striker but his age makes him a pointless target. Another former England international Shaun Wright-Phillips could also be a target, although Emile Heskey's recent comments about Raheem Sterling becoming the next Wright-Phillips may not endear him to a move to Bolton.
Released Players: Artur Boruc (signed for Bournemouth), Cody Cropper, Jos Hooiveld, Chris Johns, Omar Rowe, Jake Sinclair
Viable Options: One possible target from Saints released list could be central defender Jos Hooiveld, who had loan spells with Norwich City and Millwall this season. Striker Jake Sinclair could be an interesting gamble, with the 20-year-old keen to gain first team football in an attempt to emulate older brother Scott, now at Aston Villa.
Released Players: Ole Adeloye, James Alabi, Samuel Coulson, Alex Grant, Alex Grant, Wilson Palacios, Robbie Parry, Nathan Ricketts-Hopkinson, Thomas Sorensen, Adam Thomas, Charlie Ward, Elliot Wheeler, Andy Wilkinson
Viable Options: Wanderers have recently been linked with a move for midfielder Wilson Palacios, who signed for Stoke for £6 million four years ago but made just 53 appearances in four seasons after suffering personal problems and failed a medical for a move to Qatar last summer. Defender Andy Wilkinson, who was with Stoke since signing youth terms in 1998, would be a shrewd acquisition for any Championship side, and has recently been linked with moves to Birmingham City and Blackburn Rovers.
Released Players: Wes Brown (rumoured to be signing a new contract), Peter Burke, Andrew Cartwright, Joel Dixon, Thomas McNamee, Anthony Reveillere
Viable Options: With Wes Brown likely to remain with Sunderland, and being miles out of our market wage-wise, the only possible signing here could be left-back Anthony Reveillere. The former France international, now 35, could fill the left-back shaped hole in our defence, but we might be better off looking at younger targets.
Released Players: Thomas Atyeo, David Cornell, Rory Donnelly, Corey Francis, Giancarlo Gallifuoco, Joseph Jones, Kurtis March, Curtis Obeng, Gareth Owen, Scott Tancock, Alan Tate, Gerhard Tremmel
Viable Options: Swansea appear to have cleared out a lot of deadwood, but there are a couple of options here that would, admittedly, be a total gamble. Striker Rory Donnelly, 22, was courted by Everton before signing for Swansea but has failed to break through at Premier League level, while once highly-rated midfielder Kurtis March, also 22, has also failed to make the grade. 36-year-old Gerhard Tremmel, who was second only to Manuel Neuer in terms of save percentages in Europe in 2012/13 (saving 80.9% of shots), could be worth looking at in terms of goalkeeping options.
Released Players: Jordan Archer, Cristian Ceballos, Brad Friedel (retired), Bongani Khumalo, Aaron McEneff, Alex McQueen, Jonathan Miles
Viable Options: Not a huge amount to shout about here, but winger Cristian Ceballos, who graduated from Barcelona's La Masia academy, could be a leftfield option having made 19 appearances in the Portuguese top flight on loan at Arouca this season.
Released Players: Wesley Atkinson, Chris Baird, Aaron Birch, Jason Davidson, Bradley Garmston, Alexander Jones, Gareth McAuley, Youssouf Mulumbu, Mani O'Sullivan
Viable Options: Former Paris St Germain man Youssouf Mulumbu would be a great signing, but may see himself at higher echelons of the footballing world than Bolton. Veteran defender Chris Baird, 33, could be a solid signing, while forgotten man Jason Davidson, only 23 and a regular international for Australia, would be an excellent signing to fill our vacant left-back berth. Centre-back Gareth McAuley is likely remain in the Premier League with Albion, and has been linked to Leicester. Left-back Bradley Garmston and striker Mani O'Sullivan, both 21, have been on the edges of the Albion first-team and were expected to make the breakthrough this season but failed to do enough to impress Tony Pulis, and could be worth looking at for Championship clubs looking to take a gamble on youth.
Released Players: Kieran Bywater, Carlton Cole, Guy Demel, Jussi Jaaskalainen, Sean Maguire, Paul McCallum, Nene, Daniel Potts
Viable Options: West Ham Wanderers have kicked off the post Sam Allardyce era by releasing another former Bolton legend, Jussi Jaaskalainen, and many Wanderers fans would love to have the Finn back for a final swansong, a move that could be bolstered by the fact that his son William is on our youth team books. Carlton Cole would seem to fit Lennon's striker criteria - he's old and doesn't score goals - while right-back Guy Demel could be a strong acquisition despite being 33. Former Monaco and PSG winger Nene, 34 next month, endured a strange half season at West Ham but could be a success at Championship, though he's likely to have ridiculous wage demands.
Given the option of an open cheque book to bolster key areas of the Wanderers squad this season, my top transfer targets here would be: John Guidetti, Youssouff Mulumbu, Jason Davidson, Ben Amos, Ryan Taylor, Tom Thorpe and Jordan Lussey.
Have we failed to pick up on any hidden gems in this list of released of Premier League players? And who would you like to see Wanderers snap up this summer? Let us know in the comments section below.