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What We've Learned From the First Day of Pre-Season

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There's quite a lot.

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Hasn't time gone swiftly? It seems like only yesterday we were bemoaning Bolton Wanderers' abject, underwhelming end to the season, and now, nearly two months later, the squad were back in at Euxton to begin their pre-season and starting their preparation for hopefully a successful season.

The good people who run the social media at BWFC released a gallery of photographs and a video from the first training session of pre-season, and there's actually a fair lot we can take away from them.

We may as well begin with the complete certainties. Although the club are yet to official announce them, new signings Gary Madine, and the one that must have been a very cheery sight to every Whites supporter, Ben Amos, were both in attendance, all but confirming their transfers to the Macron.

Madine joins the club after being released by Sheffield Wednesday, due to a less than savoury career so far, he'll be hoping to prove all the doubters he's accumulated wrong. 25-year old Amos has signed after being released by Manchester United. The goalkeeper was always the obvious choice to replace the departed Adam Bogdan, and it's very relieving to know that Neil Lennon managed to secure his number one target and won't have to spend the summer searching for a new #1 'keeper.

Youngster Jordan Lussey was also pictured in training. The centre midfielder spent the latter half of last season on loan at the club, and now his contract at Liverpool has expired it looks as if he'll be joining the club permanently to, for now at least, play in the u21s.

No doubt all three signings will be officially confirmed when their contracts with their respective clubs expire, on July 1st.

On to less official things, a couple more new faces were spotted in the photographs, although these players are on trial and it remains to be seen if they'll be joining the club or not. The first is a player whom it became apparent would be at least visiting the club in some capacity, that being defensive midfielder Wilson Palacios. The 30-year old has been invited in by Lennon to prove his fitness, which if he does, may lead to a deal of some sorts.

I have my doubts about the chances of that happening, as the report from Palacios' trail at Philadelphia Union was less than promising and he also hasn't made Honduras' 23 man squad for the Gold Cup, especially worrying when you consider that Palacios has played more for his country than his clubs in recent years. I also don't see the real need for a player in his position when we, for now at least, still have Jay Spearing and Medo, but Palacios does offer a bit more steel in midfield and a lot of Premier League experience.

The next trialist was a bit more of a surprising one, as Stephen Dobbie rocked up. The attacking midfielder, who is 32(!) now, spent most of last season on loan from Blackpool to League One side Fleetwood Town, who finished 10th. It's hard to tell whether Lennon is just doing him a favour and allowing him to train or if he is interested in signing him, attacking midfield is a position we are not lacking in quality or depth. However, Dobbie is versatile and can play in all midfield positions and also has plenty of experience, especially in promotion campaigns, so who knows? Either could happen or neither could.

A face I couldn't quite spot on any of the photos, probably because it's rumoured that he is not yet fully fit, is young Dutch centre back Nick Kuipers. He spent time on trial at Bolton at the beginning of the year, and although any further deal looked dead after he signed a new contract at his club, it would appear that he also has been invited in for a trial, and it would seem there is a bit more interest in signing him compared to the others.

There was also a mystery man, who no one can seem to name. Any ideas?

Thankfully, David Dunn was no where to be seen.

As pre-season rumbles on we'll no doubt see and hear of more trialists over the coming weeks.

Now, onto the real important stuff - squad numbers.

As me and Chris discussed at great length on this weeks podcast, as Liam bewilderingly listened on...

Check Out Soccer Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Lion of Vienna Suite on BlogTalkRadio


squad numbers are important.

We'll start with the one that is most pleasing, as Ben Amos has seemingly taken over the #1 jersey vacated by Bogdan. First choice goalie as number one, just as it should be.

From there on in, however, for me at least, it all went down hill from there. Other new signing Madine has taken the #14 shirt, left free by Dorian Dervite who has seemingly taken Matt Mills' old #4. This annoys me as A) I wanted Madine to have #24 B) I don't think Dervite will start enough games to warrant #4 and C) it was one of the two potential numbers I wanted Josh Vela to take.

Speaking of Vela, he was seen wearing the #6, not too bad, but I would have preferred him to have either the aforementioned #4 or #8. With Vela apparently taking the number of, I suppose still captain, Jay Spearing, the Liverpudlian has taken the #8 shirt instead.

The only other number change is Tom Walker, who has earned a move down from number #52 to #42.

The most important squad number news though is of one player who hasn't been given a new number. As of yet, young prodigy Zach Clough remains as #40. I'm telling ya, I'll riot if he isn't given #10. Riot.

Some youngsters have been given their first squad numbers too: Rob Holding has been allocated #45 and young goalkeeper, Harry Campbell, the #49.

Dobbie, Palacios (for obvious reasons), Lussey, the unknown player, Niall Maher, Hayden White and most surprisingly, Emile Heskey, were all with out squad numbers on their new training gear.

Else where, most of the players who spent the last half of last season out on loan were back, as Spearing, Maher, Holding, Rob Hall, Alex Baptiste and Andy Kellett all reported back for duty.

The only players who seemed to be absent were Neil Danns and Eidur Gudjohnsen, likely given extended breaks due to their international involvements, Tim Ream who is off with the USA, Conor Wilkinson and Samni Odelusi, who are close to leaving the club, Tom Eaves and Medo. The latter being a surprising absentee, considering he was talking about wanting to fight his way back into Neil Lennon's plans this week.

So with lots going on on the first day back in action, has this made you more or less excited for the season to come?