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U21s: What Does the Senior Cup Win Mean for the Players?

Tom Molloy runs through what the immediate future could hold for the young whites after their impressive victory against Manchester City


On Sunday night Bolton Wanderers U21's won the Robinsons Brewery Manchester Football Association Senior Cup (try saying that after a few drinks) beating moneybags Manchester City 1-0 in the final, at the very neutral venue of City's academy ground.

This has got a few Bolton fans excited, with Manchester United and City dominating the competition in recent years, it seems like we finally might have something to shout about. Especially with Neil Lennon's faith in our youth setup, and our failure to strengthen on transfer deadline day.

But which players, if any, are we likely to see in the first team in the immediate future. Let's have a look:

Harry Campbell

Currently our third choice keeper, it's interesting that he started this tie ahead of Ross Fitzsimons. Goalkeepers are very hard to judge at this age. I always thought that Jay Lynch would turn out to be a very decent goalkeeper and always rated him higher than Rob Lainton. Lainton is now at Bury, whilst Lynch plies his trade at Salford City, in the seventh tier of English football. I shouldn't expect to see Harry Campbell for a few years yet, he's only 19, so he has plenty of time to develop.

Alex Finney

Brought in from Leyton Orient for an undisclosed fee in 2014, the 19-year-old plays with maturity beyond his years. Forming a solid partnership with Quade Taylor last season, he clearly caught the eye of Neil Lennon - starting the pre-season game against Scunthorpe and lasting 88 minutes. He picked up an injury at the start of the season but he is fit again now and has been on the bench for our last two games. It seems like he has overtaken Taylor in the defensive pecking order but with all centre-backs fit he'd still be fifth choice. I think he'll stay around though.

Quade Taylor

Brought in from Crystal Palace by Dougie Freedman (shock) the defender has been a leader at the back ever since he came in. With his form (and injuries/suspensions) earning him his debut against Birmingham City at the end of last season. He looked very composed but seems to have been overtaken in the pecking order by Finney and Rob Holding. He had a great game by all accounts in the final, winning Man of the Match and scoring the crucial goal but with his 22nd birthday approaching this year, he may fancy his chances out on loan.

Filip Twardzik

A bizarre signing on the January 2015 deadline day, Twardzik was brought in to complement the existing 356 midfielders in our squad. He scored on his debut against Derby County before suffering a horrorshow at left-back against Nottingham Forest. He was never seen again apart from some shocking performances in pre-season. It appears he's now decided he wants to be a centre-back. But at 22-years-old, and quite some way down the pecking order in every one of his positions, I can't see any salvation for the Czech. His Mrs is worth a follow on Twitter though (@kixxina).

Niall Maher

The new U21 captain interestingly enough played ten Championship games last season for Blackpool. He looked out of his depth, which is unsurprising considering the step-up between U21 and League Two is pretty big, let alone to the Championship with no previous first-team experience. At 20-years-old, I think it would be beneficial for Maher to play week-in-week-out in the lower leagues to see what he's made of. However, with him being handed the U21 captaincy, it might be a sign that we're keeping him around the place.

Hayden White

Freedman signed White as a gangly right-back from Sheffield Wednesday when he was just 17-years-old. He never really impressed me much when he first broke through and I'm still very reserved on him. He has filled out a bit and is being used as a centre-back now. He actually played in defensive midfield on Sunday and he looked quite suited to the role, getting his foot in and breaking up play. He does make some very rash challenges at times though and I personally can't see him making it here. I really do think that this is a make or break season for him and he needs to play on loan at one club all season (last season he played for four different clubs including us).

Rob Holding

Our new Mr Versatile, in two first team appearances he has played at centre-back, on the left of a back three and at right-back, with varying degrees of success. Another who earned quite an odd loan move last season, when he moved to Bury and played one game, despite not even being that much of a regular in our U21 set-up at the time. I do think that there is something about Holding and I think that he might be worth keeping around due to his versatility/our injury problems.

Andy Kellett

Sigh. Yes Kellett moved to Wigan Athletic (Wanderers) on deadline day and left me feeling quite disappointed. I'd resigned myself to the fact that Lennon didn't rate him in pre-season and his performances for the U21s since have been quite flat. I wish him all the best and hopefully he can make a good career for himself. I still don't think he's a left back in a million years though.

Tom Walker

Interesting one. Walker seemed to be one of the first names on Lennon's team sheet at the back end of last season but he has come in for criticism on multiple times due to his fitness levels. He also faced criticism after a poor first-half showing against Nottingham Forest, which is harsh considering he was playing completely out of position. I said at the back end of last season that he isn't ready for Championship football and I think a loan to a promotion chasing League One team would do him the world of good.

Kaiyne Woolery

Pace. Woolery is exciting and frustrating to watch in equal measure. He is so quick and direct and he scores his fair share but sometimes he just doesn't think. He also had a poor spell on loan at Notts County last season, however I do think he's improved quite a bit since then and I'd personally keep him around the place as even if nothing else, his pace could be used as a secret weapon against tired defences.

Jamie Thomas

Here we go, don't shoot me. I personally don't think this lad is quite ready for Championship football YET. Yes, he's scored plenty of goals at youth level and yes, he can take a set piece, and yes he's skilful. But the fact of the matter is - he's 18-years-old and to be honest his overall game isn't perfected YET. It would be foolish to throw him in right now. I do, however, think that in time he has the potential to be a very good striker for us, which is a good job because God knows we need one. I think the immediate future will see him out on loan in League One and him signing his first professional contract. If he does well on loan, I can see him being chucked straight into our team.