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Bolton Wanderers' Defensive Debacle

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A look at Neil Lennon's depleted defensive options now the transfer deadline has slammed shut

Prince is just one of Neil Lennon's summer signings to have already departed Bolton
Prince is just one of Neil Lennon's summer signings to have already departed Bolton
Clint Hughes/Getty Images

With Bolton Wanderers under a transfer embargo the only notable movement at the club during the January transfer window was outgoing.

The past month has seen all but one of Neil Lennon's summer defensive signings depart the club - either permanently or temporarily - leaving us with just six recognised defenders at the club.

January outgoings

Back in the summer Wanderers fans were relatively optimistic about the team's defensive options, with Lennon recruiting Prince Desir-Gouano on loan from Atalanta, and right-backs Francesco Pisano, Lawrie Wilson, left-back Jose Manuel Casado and centre-back Derik Osede, all on free transfers.

But since then Prince has seen his loan cancelled and moved to Turkey on loan, Pisano has moved on loan to Avellino, Wilson was loaned to Peterborough United and returned to the club yesterday, Casado has been free transferred and Derik has been frozen out.

Limited options

These outgoings leave Lennon with a defensive selection of: Lawrie Wilson, Rob Holding, Dorian Dervite, Derik Osede, David Wheater and Dean Moxey. That's one actual right-back and one actual left-back.

Of course, Rob Holding and Josh Vela have filled in at right-back through the season, with both impressing in that position. Vela was arguably one of our better players in a poor team performance against Leeds United at the weekend, while Holding played well at right-back before shifting inside to partner Dervite at centre-back.

It remains to be seen whether Wilson will return to the fold, but if Lennon didn't trust him before he loaned him down to League One then his opinion is unlikely to have suddenly changed. Which means Vela is highly likely to remain in his unnatural right-back berth for now.

On the opposite flank, Moxey has been in decent form most of this season but he's not immune to the occasional defensive shocker. And with no backup for him - unless you count Filip Twardzik as a stand-in left-back - he's basically guaranteed a starting place week-in week-out.

In the middle of defence it looks like we're going to be lumbered with the defensive disaster zone that is Dorian Dervite until the end of the season. With David Wheater out for at least another month, the Frenchman looks set to be ably supported by Holding, but should an uinjury or suspension strike then we have no option other than to throw Derik back into the fold - which Lennon clearly isn't keen on doing.

Blood the youth?

At the end of last season we saw two young defenders break into the side, as Quade Taylor impressed on his debut in the final game at home to Birmingham City and Oscar Threlkeld did well in that game and at Brentford.

Taylor, now 22, is captain of the Under 21s side but hasn't made the step up this season, while Threlkeld has been loaned out to League Two high flyers Plymouth Argyle. However, there are other prospects waiting in the wings who could be worth Neil Lennon having a look at.

By all accounts 19-year-old Alex Finney has impressed this season and has already been in and around the first-team squad. Should anything happen to our current defensive options Finney could be an option, although clearly his lack of experience is not ideal given the predicament Wanderers find themselves in.

Short-term options

Our defence hasn't been great all season, and the likes of Pisano and Casado clearly didn't do enough to impress Lennon or struggled to adapt to the English game. Meanwhile, Prince was extremely error prone but at the same time made goal saving tackles and blocks that kept us in several matches during his time at the club. But letting all three leaves the defensive options painfully depleted in the short-term, especially as the club cannot make any loan signings.

Lennon will have to hope that the dependable Wheater returns quicker than expected, that Holding continues his decent form, and that we see much improved performances from the much maligned Dervite.