A lot has been said about the possible returns of both Jussi Jääskeläinen and Kevin Nolan. Both club icons, and I feel both could still play a part for the team. Moves for the players are quite unlikely. Wages demands would be too much of a stumbling block, and with the club's lack of transfer funds, the cheaper option will likely prevail.
Bolton do need a 2nd goalkeeper. Although it does look like Chris Kirkland could be the one that fills that space, it would be brilliant to see Jussi in goal for Bolton again. Jaaskelainen, who left in 2012 after 15 years at the club, is a free agent after his release from West Ham United. He has played 530 games for the Whites, the joint 3rd most. He was a staple during the Allardyce glory years and prevented points being lost with some world class saves.
It would also be great to see Kevin Nolan return to the club who he joined at 15. Arguably the best player to date to graduate from the Wanderers academy, Nolan made 345 appearances for the club, scoring 50 goals. While Bolton have an abundance of midfielders, what they lack is a real leader. With Eidur venturing to China, Nolan could be a real mentor to the younger players in the team.
To see Nolan or Jaaskelainen grace the Reebok pitch again is very unlikely, but what if they did return?
There are several Wanderers 'legends' who had more than one playing spell at the club. I'm going to look at six of the best, and to do that I've used the 'Bolton Wanderers Legends, Top 50 players of all time' stat cards. I believe the top 50 was decided by a poll around 10 years ago. If you've never seen the cards or the list, click here. For reference, Jussi is at number 10, and Nolan was number 42.
19. Per Frandsen
A real childhood hero of mine. Frandsen first joined Bolton in 1996, for a fee of £1.25 million. Frandsen joined after the club's first relegation from the Premier League. Playing in the second tier of English football, he made his debut for the club in a 1–1 draw at Port Vale before scoring his first goal for Bolton in the following game against Manchester City. The end of Franden's first spell was controversial, as he left for local rivals Blackburn Rovers. This sparked the resignation of manager Colin Todd, who felt betrayed by the club for selling Frandsen behind his back. Frandsen's stay at Ewood Park for Blackburn was far from happy. He failed to settle at the club, and at the end of the season he returned to Bolton for £1.6m. In his final year at Bolton, the club reached the 2004 League Cup final, though they were beaten 1–2 by Middlesbrough (Zenden kicked the penalty twice). He played 304 first team games for the club in all competitions, scoring 36 goals.
20. Jim McDonagh
One of the greatest goalkeepers the club has ever seen. Seamus 'Jim' McDonagh first joined the Whites in 1976 from hometown club Rotherham United. An ever present during the Second Division Championship-winning side of 1977–78, he set a club record of conceding only 33 goals in a 42-match season. For the following two seasons in the top flight he was also an ever present and did well enough for Everton to sign him for £250,000 when Bolton were relegated in 1979–80. During this time, McDonagh set the record for the most consecutive league appearances, 161. This record still stands today. Despite being seemingly first choice for Everton, the arrival of Neville Southall prompted a return to Burnden Park. McDonagh's 2nd spell lasted 2 years, during which he managed to score a goal against Burnley. In total, McDonagh made 274 appearances for Bolton.
21. Sam Allardyce
Ignoring his glorious achievements as manager, Sam Allardyce started his career with the Trotters in 1973. Allardyce was a no nonsense centre half, and was part of the same squad as McDonagh that achieved promotion to the First Division in 1978. After Bolton's relegation in 1980, Allardyce departed for Sunderland. Big Sam returned in 1985 for a short spell before departing again a year later for PNE. In total, Allardyce made 231 appearances, scoring 24 goals.
27. Eidur Gudjohnsen
Eidur joined the Whites in 1998 after the club's 2nd relegation from the Premier League. Although it took him a while to get match fit, Gudjohnsen quickly established himself as a fan favourite. During his first spell, Eidur was part of the squad that lost in the 1999 Play off final. During Big Sam's first season as manager, Bolton got to the semi final's of the League Cup, FA Cup and the Play Off's (cue Barry Knight reference). Failure to get promoted prompted Eidur' £4million to Chelsea. During his first spell, Gudjohnsen played 73 games, scoring 27 goals. The iceman then went on to win multiple trophies, including two Premier League titles with Chelsea and the Champions League with Barcelona. After 14 years away, Gudjohnsen returned to universal jubilation. After a further 24 games and six goals, it was assumed Eidur was here to stay. That isn't the case. But the Chinese league ends in November, so who knows? A third spell could happen.
33. Neil Whatmore
One of the best strikers to grace the Burnden Park turf, Whatmore started his career with Bolton in 1973, where he scored two goals on his debut. Another key player of the 1977-1978 promotion team, Whatmore scored 31 goals to help Bolton to the First Division, forming a formidable partnership with Frank Worthington in the process. Whatmore departed in 1981 to join Birmingham City for £350,000. Reunited with Worthington, the pair couldn't find the form they had for the Wanderers. Whatmore would return to the Whites in 3 separate spells in the 80's, in 1982, 1984 and 1987. Supposedly the 1987 move was financed by an anonymous fan. In total, Whatmore played 338 games for Bolton, scoring 121 goals. He is the 9th highest scorer in Bolton Wanderers history.
37. Jimmy 'Jiminiho' Phillips
The only one on this article who is Bolton born and bred, Phillips started his career as a defender with Bolton in 1983. In 1987, Phillips departed after making over 100 league appearances to join Rangers. Spells with Oxford and Middlesbrough followed, before a return to Burnden Park in 1993. Another 8 years as a player followed, Phillips was a key part as Bolton achieved promotion to the Premier League in 1995 and 1997, as well as reaching the 1995 League Cup Final. Jiminiho had his testimonial against Celtic in 1998, and remains with the club to this day as academy manager. In total, Jimmy Phillips played 411 games for Bolton, scoring 8 goals. You can watch his best goal against Crystal Palace here.
If you have any great memories of any of the six returning players, write in the comments box below.