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Bolton Wanderers: Will They Stay or Will They Go?

Rob looks at the players likely to depart Wanderers at the end of the season, and the very few he'd like to stay

New Bolton chief exec Dean Holdsworth could have a busy summer on his hands
New Bolton chief exec Dean Holdsworth could have a busy summer on his hands
Harry Trump/Getty Images

The new owners at Bolton Wanderers have only been in charge for two weeks but have already begun to make their presence known by sacking Neil Lennon and attempting to move on some of the club's higher earners.

Liam Feeney has already been farmed out to Ipswich Town on loan, and seems set to leave at the end of his contract in the summer, and Jay Spearing and Mark Davies have been told to find themselves new clubs. And after Saturday's debacle at Bristol City, the new ownership may well have their sights fixed on several additional targets for the chop.

More departures are guaranteed, with several players out of contract and with Sports Shield keen to reduce the wage bill. So here is our look at who is likely to leave, and who could stick around to help Wanderers fight in League One next season.



Ben Amos

Age: 25 (26 in April) 2015/16 appearances: 35   Contract expiry: June 2019

Verdict: Ben Amos has kept us in countless matches this season, racking up 104 saves so far. He's playing behind a defence that has been frequently incapable of doing its job - defending - so it's only natural that he's been forced into mistakes. He certainly seems to have a weakness against long range shots, and this is something he needs to work on, but I think he has potential to be a good Championship goalkeeper. He just needs a bit of confidence, and to be playing behind a defence that isn't as porous as ours has this season.

Verdict: Stay, unless someone buys him

Paul Rachubka

Age: 34 (35 in May)  2015/16 appearances: 8 Contract expiry: June 2016

In his eight matches for Bolton, Rachubka has made just 16 saves and conceded 20 goals. He's a truly awful goalkeeper, as has been proven by his shocking display at Bristol City on Saturday.

Verdict: Go. As quickly as possible, go

Harry Campbell

Age: 20 2015/16 appearances: Contract expiry: June 2016

Verdict: We've yet to see him in the first-team, but given Rachubka's 'effort' at Bristol we should do if Amos is not fit to return after the international break. He's done well to become the pick of the young goalkeepers at Bolton, but can he make the next step up?

Verdict: Stay, deserves a chance to impress beyond his current contract


Lawrie Wilson

Age: 28  2015/16 appearances: 11 Contract expiry: June 2017

He's been a bit hit and miss this season, but not bad enough to warrant being frozen out of the first team then farmed out on loan to League One. Could be a decent full-back in that league and with another year on his contract it makes sense to hold onto him.

Verdict: Stay

Francesco Pisano

Age: 29 (30 next month)  2015/16 appearances: Contract expiry: June 2017

Never really got a fair crack under Neil Lennon, but he failed to settle in England and it's impossible to imagine him still being here next season. A return to Italy sees inevitable following the expiry of his loan at Avellino.

Verdict: Go

David Wheater

Age: 29 2015/16 appearances: 21  Contract expiry: June 2016

Wheater had arguably been our best player through the first part of the season, and he's clearly our best senior centre-back. But Bolton's relegation will likely spell the end of his time at the club, especially with the owners keen to rid themselves of higher earners.

Verdict: Go

Rob Holding

Age: 20 2015/16 appearances: 24 Contract expiry: June 2016

Has excelled in an under-performing defence and his form will likely have Championship, if not Premier League, scouts aware of his availability at the end of the season. The key objective for the new owners will be to get Holding signed up on a new deal and build the team around him, but that may be easier said than done.

Verdict: Stay, if he wants to

Derik Osede

Age: 23  2015/16 appearances: 15  Contract expiry: June 2018

Has impressed of late alongside Rob Holding in the centre of defence, but it's certainly fair to say he cannot play at right-back. He's got two more years on his contract, and the step down to League One may help him settle into the English game.

Verdict: Stay

Dorian Dervite

Age: 26   2015/16 appearances: 15   Contract expiry: June 2017

Has looked shaky in several games this season, but performed better alongside Holding at times. I want to think he'd be a decent League One defender, but then he struggled against Eastleigh... May stay on for another season to provide some experience and be another body, but there was interest from Championship teams this season so hopefully there will be again.

Verdict: Go - someone buy him please

Alex Finney

Age: 19   2015/16 appearances: 0   Contract expiry: June 2016

Those who've seen the Under 21s play this season have been impressed by Finney, and it'd be great to see him provide support for Holding and Osede in League One.

Verdict: Stay

Dean Moxey

Age: 30    2015/16 appearances: 33  Contract expiry: June 2017

I'm still not convinced by Moxey - I'll never fully forgive him for his debut at Watford last season - but he remains our only left-back following the premature departure of Jose Manuel Casado.

Verdict: Stay

Niall Maher

Age: 20 2015/16 appearances:    Contract expiry: June 2016

Has impressed as captain of Wanderers' reserves side and earned a place on the first-team substitutes' bench a few times this season. He made ten appearances on loan at Blackpool last season and may now deserve a chance in the Bolton first-team, especially given our right-back woes. He should be one that gets retained for next season.

Verdict: Stay


Mark Davies

Age: 28 2015/16 appearances: 34 Contract expiry: June 2017

Has woefully underperformed all season, doesn't look interested and clearly doesn't want to be at the club anymore. If it wasn't for his own greediness he would have joined Sheffield Wednesday on loan in January, and hopefully someone else will come looking for him in the summer. If not, hopefully he'll have the good grace to rip up the final year of his excessive contract.

Verdict: Go

Darren Pratley

Age: 30 (31 next month) 2015/16 appearances: 31  Contract expiry: June 2018

Like Davies, has been extremely poor all season. Despite being given the captain's armband he is almost invisible in the centre of the Bolton midfield - except for when he pops up to kick an opponent. He's only looked half decent in the two cup matches against non-league Eastleigh and that, frankly, is where he belongs. Whoever gave Pratley a three-year contract deserves shooting.

Verdict: Go

Jay Spearing

Age: 27  2015/16 appearances: 23   Contract expiry: June 2017

Has probably been the best of our senior midfielders this season, when he was given a chance to play. He's one of the few that have looked bothered and always puts a shift in. However, he's been told to find a new club for the remainder of this season as Bolton would owe Liverpool another around £100,000 if he makes another league appearance. Personally I'd like to see him stay, but it seems unlikely that he'll be allowed to or that he'll be content playing in League One.

Verdict: Go, new owners will probably try to sell him

Liam Trotter

Age: 27 2015/16 appearances: 12  Contract expiry: June 2017

Never really impressed since joining Bolton, despite being well named to do so. People may argue he could be a decent League One midfielder, but I'm not convinced. How anyone gave him a three-year contract I will never know.

Verdict: Go, if we can sell him

Neil Danns

Age: 33  2015/16 appearances: 28   Contract expiry: June 2016

Has barely featured recently and seems a certainty to leave at the end of his contract.

Verdict: Go

Josh Vela

Age: 22 2015/16 appearances: 29 Contract expiry: June 2017

Has played well at times in a struggling side, largely at right-back. One of his better performances of the season was when he was given a midfield role at Charlton, and I think he needs to build some confidence in his favoured position. And he'd be much better trying to do that in League One. There's been interest in him this season, most notably from Ipswich Town, but I'm not convinced his worth his while moving to another Championship side at the moment.

Verdict: Stay, if no-one buys him

Filip Twardzik

Age: 2015/16 appearances: 2 Contract expiry: June 2017

Has barely figured this season, and doesn't seem overly happy about it. Seems likely he'll be moving on in the summer.

Verdict: Go

Oscar Threlkeld

Age: 21  2015/16 appearances: 0 Contract Expiry: June 2016

Threlkeld came into the Bolton side at the end of last season and had a couple of decent performances, and has performed well in 27 appearances on loan at Plymouth Argyle in League Two this season. It'd be great to see him come back to the club and carry on that form next season, if he's given a new contract.

Verdict: Stay


Liam Feeney

Age: 29 (30 next month) 2015/16 appearances: 42  Contract expiry: June 2016

Our second top scorer and top assist maker but he's divided fans throughout his time at the club. Now he's gone out on loan and apparently impressed on his debut for Ipswich yesterday, so there's no chance he'll be signing a new contract.

Verdict: Go

Wellington Silva

Age: 23 2015/16 appearances: 25  Contract expiry: June 2016

Spent the season on loan from Arsenal and showed flashes of brilliance but largely been innocuous. He's barely figured since the match at Brighton in mid-February and came on against Bristol only to go off injured. A return on loan next season seems pointless and impossible, and at the age of 23 you question whether Wellington is cut out for English football.

Verdict: Go

Tom Walker

Age: 20  2015/16 appearances: 7   Contract expiry: June 2017

Walker looked like a great prospect at the end of last season, and was our best player towards the end of campaign. This season, for whatever reason, he's struggled to cement a place in the first team, only playing his first game since September against Bristol City at the weekend. A run of games now and next season will hopefully see Walker establish himself as a starting winger.

Verdict: Stay

Max Clayton

Age: 21 2015/16 appearances: 8 Contract expiry:

A player who could be vital to our hopes next season, if we can just keep him fit. He's still young and he's shown great potential when he's been available, so he'll be another vital player in League One. The injuries are a concern - I'd almost forgotten he'd existed when writing this list.

Verdict: Stay


Emile Heskey

Age: 37 2015/16 appearances: 23 (!!)  Contract expiry: June 2016

Should have retired last summer, and - you'd hope - definitely will this time around. Scored two goals, which looks almost prolific compared to last season, but looked well past it every time he's played.

Verdict: Go - retire

Stephen Dobbie

Age: 33 2015/16 appearances: 22 (!!) Contract expiry: June 2016

I say he's a striker, truth is I have no idea what his position is. I just hope that I don't have to care anymore next season. The fact that Dobbie and Heskey have 45 appearances between them this season means we deserve to be relegated.

Verdict: Go away

Gary Madine

Age: 25 2015/16 appearances: 36  Contract expiry: June 2017

Madine should score more than he does, but his finishing has been dire this season. I think League One is his level, which makes me think he will stay on in the summer. Needs a manager to put their arm around him and be super supportive, which he never got from Lennon, and given a little bit of confidence at a lower level, maybe he could score a few. Also, we have no other strikers and surely no-one would want to buy him, so might not have a choice.

Verdict: Stay

Zach Clough

Age: 21  2015/16 appearances: 21  Contract expiry: June 2019

Young Zach has really been struggling of late, and he's only scored 4 goals all season - but there's no doubting the quality that he possesses. I think he's another player that would really benefit a drop down in standard to League One, it's still difficult to pinpoint what his best position is and he needs to gain confidence of regular football. I hope he'll stay next season, allthough that may be difficult if the club receives interest again in the summer.

Verdict: Stay, unless we get serious offers

Kaiyne Woolery

Age: 21 2015/16 appearances: 13   Contract expiry: June 2016

On the rare occasion of playing he's looked bright, exciting and threatening - which is more than can be said of most of his teammates. Interestingly, he's had two shots on target all season - and scored both. If he can gain more experience of first-team football then he should be an attacking threat that we need to build a team around next season. However, the vultures might be circling with his contract expiring.

Verdict: Stay, if we can renew his contract

Conor Wilkinson

Age: 21  2015/16 appearances: 0 Contract Expiry: June 2016

Remember him? He's been on loan in League One and League Two this season, only scoring two goals in 23 appearances. Seems highly unlikely to be retained.

Verdict: Go

So if these verdicts come true, we'd be left with a first-team squad looking something like this, comprising just 15 players:

2 Goalkeepers: Ben Amos, Harry Campbell

6 Defenders: Lawrie Wilson, Rob Holding, Derik Osede, Alex Finney, Dean Moxey, Niall Maher

2 Midfielders: Josh Vela, Oscar Threlkeld

2 Wingers: Tom Walker, Max Clayton

3 Strikers: Gary Madine, Zach Clough, Kaiyne Woolery


So with that in mind, and with Wanderers hardly plush for cash and maybe even still under a transfer embargo, the likelihood is that we may have to turn our attention to more youth products. Here are a few prospects to keep an eye out for and who could be on the first-team teamsheet sometime soon.


Ross Fitzsimmons - Been on the first-team bench a couple of times earlier in the season

William Jaaskalainen - The great man Jussi's son, but a bit soon for him you'd think. He's still only 17

Jake Turner - Only turned 17 in February, but made his debut for the Under 21 side as a 16-year-old a couple of months ago and played well


Nathaniel Phillips - Son of caretaker manager Jimmy, turned 19 on Sunday and isn't ready for the first-team yet. But when your dad's the boss, who knows...


Jordan Lussey - signed from Liverpool at the start of the season, but has no first-team experience

Alex Perry - Only just 18, but has impressed for the Under 21s this season

Chris Cvetko - Another Under 21s regular. Likes a shot, which would be a relief from the misery of watching Davies and Pratley


Jamie Thomas - Free scoring for the Under 18s, scored a few for the Under 21s this season and he's been playing for Wales Under-19s

Alex Samizadeh - Scored for fun in the Under 18s this season and recently had a trial with Derby County. Could be worth a gamble in League One, even though he doesn't turn 18 until November

George Newell - 19-year-old son of former Blackburn striker Mike, good physical presence and has played for the Under 21s this season

Enock Likoy-Elumba - Still only 18 but has shown a lot of promise and stepped up to the Under 21s squad as a substitute this season

Ronaldo Pearson - Just for the name. He turns 18 in September