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Opinion: Where Have all the Decent Right Backs Gone?

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Chris takes a trip down memory lane

Alex Livesey/Getty Images

I'll start this by making a proclamation: we haven't had a decent right back since Neil Cox left the club back in 1999.

Pre-Cox, if you like, we had plenty of moderately acceptable right backs - names such as Phil Brown and Gudni Bergsson (better as a centre half, if you ask me) spring to mind. Since then however, there has been a real absence of quality in the right full back slot.

Let's head down memory lane together. I've even made a table!

Season

Right Back

Conceded

League

Position

1999/2000

Neil Cox

50

First Division

6

2000/2001

John O'Kane

45

First Division

3 (P)

2001/2002

Anthony Barness

62

Premier League

16

2002/2003

Anthony Barness

51

Premier League

17

2003/2004

Bruno N'Gotty

56

Premier League

8

2004/2005

Bruno N'Gotty

44

Premier League

6

2005/2006

Bruno N'Gotty

41

Premier League

8

2006/2007

Nicky Hunt

52

Premier League

7

2007/2008

Nicky Hunt

54

Premier League

16

2008/2009

Gretar Steinsson

53

Premier League

13

2009/2010

Gretar Steinsson

67

Premier League

14

2010/2011

Gretar Steinsson

56

Premier League

14

2011/2012

Gretar Steinsson

77

Premier League

18 (R)

2012/2013

Tyrone Mears

61

Championship

7

2013/2014

Alex Baptiste

60

Championship

14

2014/2015

Josh Vela

67

Championship

18

So as you can see, ever since Cox's departure we've struggled for a decent right back. Granted, we had Bruno in there for a time, but like Bergsson he was only ever really a centre half covering for our lack of choice at right back.

The Steinsson years, unsurprisingly, coincide with the highest number of goals conceded.

To be fair, I will look at them all one by one:

Neil Cox

Perhaps the greatest English right back of the modern generation. He could attack, defend and was tigerish in the tackle. He could race up and down the flank with boundless energy. Second only to Cafu in my eyes.

John O'Kane

Former Manchester United man who had a season at the Reebok after leaving Everton. Barely left an impression except for that time he was sent off for fighting against some opposition that I can hardly recall.

Anthony Barness

Experienced right back who arrived from Charlton Athletic and served the club well. Didn't have the legs to get up the field to support the attack, but a solid defender nonetheless.

Bruno N'Gotty

Classy French centre half, formerly of AC Milan and Marseille - one of the premier signings of the early Sam Allardyce years he was a rock for many a season before leaving amid rumours of a scrap with Mr Jay Jay Okocha, of all people.

Nicky Hunt

Daisy Hill's finest wore the no.2 shirt with pride, if not distinction. A real case of someone being in the right place at the right time.

Gretar Steinsson

Nice guy, awful defender. Born out of position, the lad had all the defensive nous of a fireplace. Loved to attack, but was less interested in the defensive side of his game which, as a defender, was a bit of a problem.

Tyrone Mears

Next

Alex Baptiste

Unfairly maligned by the terrace experts, former Blackpool man Baptiste spent last season on loan at Blackburn Rovers after a troubled debut year at Bolton Wanderers under Dougie Freedman. Should be given another crack this year.

Josh Vela

Academy graduate Vela is a midfield general who put in a shift at right back under instruction from Neil Lennon. Did an impressive job given that he had never previously played the role before. Should be back in midfield next year with Baptiste replacing him at right back.

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So there you have it again - irrefutable evidence that we've not had a decent natural right back since the days of Neil Cox.

Who is your favourite Bolton Wanderers right back of our time? Let us know below the line.