Whilst the out of contract squad players at risk of a cull are of a number not seen since the Christmas turkey cull of last December, what players do Bolton still have on contract and do we actually want to keep them?
This being Bolton though, it's not just their ability on the field of play, finances need to be considered. Whilst those clubs relegated from the Premiership have their colossal parachute payments to cover inflated wages, the going rate for a Championship salary is reported as up to 'only' £8k per week. We obviously have no idea what our club is willing to pay but this seems a useful yardstick to compare our squad against.
Ben Amos; only half way through his 4 year contract with Bolton and on a reportedly eye watering 16k pw. The staggering levels of ineptitude needed to offer a player a contract such as this literally just weeks before our club imploded financially is still mind boggling two years later. Without doubt a self inflicted injury whose bar was only recently bettered by the Americans voting in Trump. This isn't the former Man Utd protege's fault of course. Amos did have a great loan spell at Bolton prior to signing that contract, but his last two seasons at Bolton and on loan at Cardiff haven't been great. Such was the impression Amos left on Cardiff manager Neil Warnock, he was dropped before Christmas. To quote the Inside Welsh Foodball site, "Amos’ error-prone nature should not have been news to the Cardiff hierarchy. The warning signs were evident last season when his mistakes proved costly for relegated Bolton." Can Parky's coaching team rescue Bens career? They may need to try because I can't see us offloading him.
Mark Howard and Ben Alnwick; both 30, 6 feet tall, one year left on contract and have had a similar degree of success this season for Bolton, to quote our illustrious editor, they really are "two cheeks of the same arse." However, Alnwick has actually played in both the Prem and Championship, whilst Howard has no previous experience at that level. Can they make the step up? Do we keep just one to make room for the promising Jake Turner? A very difficult call this for Parky, especially if Amos is staying with us next season. Alnwick is my personal pick though.
Derik Osede; the ex Real Madrid development squad player has had a mixed season. A central defender by trade, Derik failed at right back but has prospered as a defensive midfielder. I personally think Derik is a player more suited to the Championship than League One, hopefully being able to put to use his superior ability both on the ball and in passing to good use. Osede has one year left on a reported £9.5k pw contract. A little steep really for someone who seems to be a squad player in Parky's teams. It wouldn't surprise me if the club sell him on if a suitable offer is made. If he does stay though, for all that is holy, please, PLEASE do not play him at right back.
Mark Beevers; absolutely owned League One alongside Wheater this year. It's a no brainer to everyone that Beevers has got what it takes to be a success in the Championship. With just the one year left on his contract, you'd expect the club to be extending it this coming summer. A vital player for next season.
Josh Vela; chuffed that Vela has finally had a successful run in the team as an attacking midfielder. Over the last few years, Vela has suffered from being played in numerous positions, his adaptability doing him no favours in the long run. With two years left on his contract and our remaining youth product (after the Holding and Clough departures), Vela deserves a chance to show he can succeed in the Championship. A sellable asset for a club short of cash maybe, but I honestly don't see him going anywhere. Along with Pratley and Beevers, I reckon Vela will be in the starting XI come August.
Darren Pratley; with another year to run on his contract, at 32 and on a reported £14k pw, you'd expect Prats to be a luxury the club is eager to lose. Many fans would wholeheartedly agree. However, Parky is just the latest in a string of Bolton managers that seem to highly rate the club captain. I'd be surprised if any likely interested club could better the contract Prats is currently on anyway. I just can't see him going and I think PP and his backroom see Pratley as a another vital cog in next seasons squad. I personally think Pratley has the ability to succeed again in the Championship but also believe a Pratley/Spearing midfield combo doesn't work. One or the other yes, together no.
Chris Taylor; has 50 games of Championship experience under his belt although he's played most of his career for Oldham in League One. I personally thought he was a good signing last summer, but it simply hasn't worked out for him. He was in a word, shite, and is as popular as a fart in a spacesuit with our fans. So much so, he ended up back at his first love, Oldham, on loan. Now 30 and with still one year left on his contract, you can only expect a sale, or season long loan, back in League One being Chris Taylor's future this summer.
Conor Wilkinson; a talented prospect apparently. Whether that's for being a King Kong sized bellend or as a striker has not been confirmed to me yet. Now 22, Conor needs first team football and he ain't getting it at Bolton in the Championship. He's had an incredible eight loans out whilst being on our books, scoring 10 goals in 57 appearances. Apparently on a good wage, if not a club busting one, a season loan, or loans, in the lower leagues for the final year of his contract is his only real prospect.
Jamie Proctor; one year left on contract. I thought this bloke would be that golden signing last summer going off his preseason performances. He wasn't. When the matches got serious, Proctor had a mare, particularly when filling in for an injured Madine.blast September. Quickly loaned out to Carlisle to enable Bolton to bring in a proper striker, as with Wilkinson, you can only see Proctor sold on or loaned to a lower league club this summer.
So there it is. Agree or disagree? Let me know your thoughts below the line.