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A Cause for Defence - Lennon & His Options

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After the capture of Derik from Real Madrid, Tom Molloy looks at what it means for the Wanderers' defence.

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It's hard to argue that our main downfall last season, injuries aside, was our defence. One of the most interesting things though is that it was the very same defenders who kept Liverpool at bay for almost two whole matches, who then looked so hopeless against the likes of Rotherham United.

Time after time, Lennon and fans alike would bemoan last minute goals (even against Liverpool) as concentration levels dropped to non-existent levels. What made this harder to stomach was seeing Alex Baptiste - who had looked so hopeless on occasions for us, albeit out of position - flourishing out on loan at our beloved rivals Blackburn Rovers.

Baptiste has, of course, gone now though and he's been replaced by someone from quite a small unknown Spanish team called Real Madrid? (Nope, me neither). Derik's arrival has created quite the sense of optimism amongst Bolton fans but it's foolish to think that his arrival alone sorts out our defensive woes.

For starters, we still don't really have any senior right backs. Josh Vela did admirably there last season but I think everybody wants to see him in centre midfield. Others who have filled in briefly are Oscar Threlkeld and Hayden White, however Threlkeld is a centre back by trade and White still has a lot to prove after a couple of worrying loan spells last season.

Less experienced options are Niall Maher and Rob Holding, both of whom were thrown in at the deep end being loaned out last season, with Maher understandably failing to shine at that shambles of Blackpool and Holding really not making an impression at Bury. Maher has travelled to Austria with the first team squad though so Lennon must see something there and reports of Holding from the Atherton Colls game are very encouraging.

Centre back, on paper seems to be our most well-stocked position. Joining Derik are David Wheater, Dorian Dervite  and Tim Ream.

These seem like a decent enough bunch of centre backs and Championship level but then you take into account that Wheats is currently suffering his 628364th injury since joining us, Dervite descended into Gerald Cid-esque levels of incompetence at the end of last season and as for Ream; it's probably fair to say he is as much of a left-back as a centre back these days. In reserve we have the aforementioned Oscar Threlkeld and reserve captain Quade Taylor, who is untested apart from a solid performance at the end of last season.

Then we come onto left-back. Oh boy. Dean Moxey didn't exactly endear himself to the Bolton Wanderers fans last season with a series of poor performances. He did improve towards the end of the season, looking more comfortable as part of a back five (one of the only players to do so).

Tim Ream is comfortably our first choice, out of position so that highlights the problem. Andy Kellett and Filip Twardzik were both tried there but I see both their futures further up the field, likewise with Tom Walker who will never be a wing-back in a million years.

To conclude, I honestly believe that our group of centre backs will be good enough if they all stay fit (big if). Derik's passing out from the back can hopefully complement the no-nonsense style of David Wheater. However if we need to progress next season we need to sign some full backs.

The priority has to be a right-back with Ryan Taylor being the most common name flying about.

However I wouldn't be so averse to having Joey O'Brien back. Hear me out... he was a key member of the side that got West Ham promoted and he's yet another academy graduate, albeit an older one, that we can proudly claim as our own. On the other hand both of these players have worrying injury records and Lennon may have his eye on someone younger, perhaps Paulinho who we almost signed in January.

At left back, Moxey should be adequate backup in this league and if Lennon does persist with the back 3/5 next season then Kellett would be the obvious natural choice for the left-wing back role but it's paramount to have players to suit our system and personally, I don't think there's anything wrong with a straightforward flat back four.

Either way I trust in our ginger prince to bring in the right players to stop conceding these frustrating last-minute goals and hopefully get some clean sheets.