The troublesome right back position was a constant pain for Bolton Wanderers throughout the entirety of last season. The campaign began with only one senior right back in the squad and that's how things remained until the final whistle blew against Birmingham City in May. That one senior right back being Kevin McNaughton, who spent the vast majority of the year in the physio's room, which left the position vacated. For a while it was filled briefly by the odd loanee, once by Hayden White and then by playing other defenders way out of position. Dorian Dervite and Tim Ream both had the joy of playing there on occasions.
Only when Neil Lennon arrived at the club was a remedy found for the fault line running down the right hand side of the pitch. It may still have been playing a player well out of position, but this time it worked, because it was Josh Vela playing there. Fellow youngster Oscar Threlkeld also got some opportunities to prove his worth, but he was used far more sparingly.
So, lets see how those right backs who graced the Macron turf last season did, shall we?
* Kevin McNaughton -
The Good - The season didn't contain too many highlights for Kevin McNaughton, injury and competition restricted him to only a mere nine appearances for the club. Possibly the best moment of McNaughton's season was when he actually rejoined the club for a second loan spell. Bolton had just loaned out Alex Baptiste and were really lacking in defensive depth, but hours later it was announced that McNaughton would be signing for the season. It seemed like a genius move. How naïve we were.
The Bad - Getting publicly slagged off by the manager for a lack of fitness was pretty damning, Neil Lennon said: "Kevin McNaughton is just not training to the level we want him to and he's required to."
The Ugly - Finally conquering all his injury problems, fighting his way back into the first team, playing quite well, only to be left injured by an insidious kick against Reading in only his first start for the Whites in months.
What Does Next Season Hold? - Who knows? He finds himself coming back from a pretty serious injury and without a club, so the future isn't looking too promising for the Scott at this moment in time. But I do hope he finds himself a good club and can return to first team football.
2014/15 Rating - 4/10
*Josh Vela -
The Good - Well, where to start. Josh Vela was a revelation last season. All Bolton fans knew he had it in him and we've all been waiting for him to get a real opportunity in the first team since he made his debut in the Premier League, but to see him finally prove Dougie Freedman and any other of his doubters wrong was absolutely glorious. He came into the side and for the most part played out of position at right back, but you wouldn't know it. He developed into a fine defender over the course of the season and was able to match the vast majority of wingers he came up against, with his superb tackling and unrelenting determination to cut out the danger. Yes, his positioning could sometimes be a little sloppy, but that only comes with time. He also proved he could do more than defend, when playing in either defence or midfield, he showed that he could dictate and control a game with his composed passing and that he had the eye for the killer pass to cut defences open, his slipped through ball for Zach Clough against Brighton testifies to that. So yeah, a whole lot of good.
The Bad - Several niggly injuries and seeming tiredness contributed to a slump in form a couple of times last season, which is more than expected from a young player. The promising thing is that he bounced back from all of those slumps before injury put an end to his campaign.
The Ugly - He came horrendously close to leaving the club this season because of how he was treated by Dougie Freedman. Thank god the insufferable wank left instead.
What Does Next Season Hold? - The number 8 shirt, or I'll riot. But in all seriousness, a permanent move to the middle of park has to be the next big step in Vela's career. He showed sporadic instances throughout the season that he can really dominate a midfield with his energy and dogged determination, against Liverpool no less, but he'll have to prove he can do that weekly next season - and I have every belief that he will.
2014/15 Rating - 8/10
* Oscar Threlkeld -
The Good - When Threlkeld found himself back in the side after quite a lengthy absence, I felt like he did quite well and showed definite improvement on his last appearance in a white shirt. He was still far from the finished article, as his positioning, crossing and work rate were often found wanting, but I feel that he was significantly better at winning back the ball from attackers whilst still being played in an unfavourable position.
The Bad - In his first appearance of the season, against Norwich City back in October, he massively struggled against their pacey wingers and the brute strength of Cameron Jerome. Whilst I didn't blame him entirely for the goals we conceded that game, he certainly didn't look ready for the first team. Josh Vela replaced him at right back the following game and Threlkeld wasn't seen again until late April.
The Ugly - That new hairstyle is quite something.
What Does Next Season Hold? - I definitely hope to see a whole lot more of Threlkeld next season. Even though he's still got a long way to go, I felt the improvement we saw from him last year was promising, and with his versatility he could prove a real asset. He just needs to continue to improve his game and fully take the next chance he gets.
2014/15 Rating - 5/10
* Hayden White
The Good - It wasn't a very progressive season for Hayden White, with not many good things to talk about, as the next point will detail.
The Bad - White doesn't really seemed to have progressed much from last season, even though he was called back from his loan spell early by Neil Lennon, he failed to break into a defence that for the majority of the campaign was without an actual right back.
The Ugly - Whilst on loan at Burry he made an amazingly atrocious tackle that earned him a straight red card. This could potential go into the good category too, as it was sensational.
What Does Next Season Hold? - Much like with Threlkeld, one would hope that White will finally make the step up to the first team next season. He's been at the club for a while now and has been sent on several loan spells, and at the age of 20 he should really be starting to stake a claim for a regular spot in the starting XI. With our financial situation being the way it is, he may well need to soon as well, because if we fail to sign a right back in the summer then he'll need to make the step up. However, I do have my doubts whether he'll be able to, but I live in hope.
2014/15 Rating - 3/10
* Chris Herd
The Good - Seeing him rinse a Chelsea winger with a quick dummy on the ball, on his debut, was quite exciting.
The Bad - He played what? Three games?
The Ugly - Didn't play enough games, due to injury, to do anything too disastrous.
What Does Next Season Hold? - He finds himself without a club after being released by Aston Villa and it remains to be seen if anyone would be willing to take a punt on such an injury prone player.
2014/15 Rating - 5/10