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Bolton Wanderers: Where Have all the Young Players Gone?

Facts laid bare

Stoke City v Bolton Wanderers - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

When I started watching Bolton Wanderers there was always a healthy mix of experience and youth. You need a bit of both, surely?

Why then, has this current crop of Wanderers players all of a sudden become so old?

I’ve done a bit of research, dear reader.

I’ve found that a total 14 players in our entire squad are under 30 and four being players we have on loan, so they aren’t ours anyway.

They are:

Under 30

Remi Matthews (24), Mark Little (29), Mark Beevers (28), Pavel Olkowski (28), Jason Lowe (27), Josh Vela (24), Erhun Oztumer (27), Sammy Ameobi (26), Will Buckley (28), Luke Murphy (29), Joe Williams (22), Yanic Wilschut (27), Christian Doidge (26) and Josh Magennis (28).

Of the regulars you could maybe count Williams, Ameobi, Lowe, Buckley, Olkowski and Beevers as being part of that group, with one of Doidge and Magennis in there.

Over 30

Ben Alnwick (31), Ben Williams (35), Andrew Taylor (31), Jack Hobbs (30), Marc Wilson (31), Jonathan Grounds (30), David Wheater (31), Craig Noone (30), Gary O’Neil (35), Lloyd Dyer (36), Stephen Ireland (32) and Clayton Donaldson (34).

So, out of a squad of 30, we have seven players under thirty years of age who actually stand a chance of playing for the first team.

Now I do understand the logic in giving experience it’s head when in a difficult position, but where are the youth teamers? Josh Vela is only in the squad at the moment because of the ruling that means we have to have at least one (so we have one) academy graduate in every matchday squad.

In recent years we had Rob Holding, Zach Clough, Niall Maher, Oskar Threlkeld, Andy Kellett, Tom Walker, Max Clayton and Kaiyne Woolery all on the periphery of the team, if not making up key roles within the same.

Now we have an ageing squad struggling to keep pace with a fast-moving and aggressive division.

What to do?