Thanks to the COVID pandemic and how it has delayed the 19/20 season, July is a bit of a strange month. The 1400 professional players quoted in the press whose contracts expired on 30 June are still being paid, as they get one months severance pay post release. Pre-season doesn’t start in earnest now until 03 August, given the expected 12 September start date for the 20/21 season. So players can currently afford to wait to see which clubs offer the best terms.
Therefore, it is difficult to judge whether Evatt just isn’t interested in re-signing any of an unlucky 13 or whether some have actually been given offers but are stalling to see if they can get a better deal elsewhere. As Ian himself says, it may be the start of next month before players feel that they need to make a decision. It may well also be that some of them have the stigma of three failed seasons, be it whether they are complicit or not, and perhaps the club feel a cut with the past is needed to enable the new regime to move forward.
Anyhow, below is the latest goss reported on social media or elsewhere and my view on whether they’ll stay or go.
Remi Matthews 26: a brilliant shot stopper who’s perhaps shaky at commanding his area, Remi has his pro’s and cons. A hard worker though who is popular with most fans. Personally I thought that he’d get a new deal and someone else would be brought in to give him serious competition. However he was signed when we were in the Championship and maybe it is time for him to go elsewhere. Speculation is that Carlisle have made him an offer and then there are the inevitable reunion rumours with Parky at Sunderland.
Josh Emmanuel 22; if I’d written this article when Evatt was announced as manager I’d have said Josh was a raging certainty to stay. He seemed exactly the kind of player Ian would be keen to get back onboard. There was rumour that he had been offered a contract but all has since gone quiet. No rumours of interest elsewhere though either, which is a surprise.
Jack Hobbs 31; chronic back injury issues look certain to end his time at Bolton. However he is another player rumoured to have been looked at for an extended stay. That seems unlikely to me. Certainly has the quality to cruise L2 football but can he stay fit?
Yoan Zouma 22; so much potential but in reality a victim of the Hill reign. Last update was that he’d gone back to France just prior to the pandemic lockdown and is highly unlikely to return to Bolton. The fact that we now have 3 other young centre half’s on contract would seem to back this up.
Joe Bunney 26; thanks to a bad RTA not long after signing for Bolton, we haven’t really seen much of him. Not helped by Bolton signing the highly rated Brandon Flemming on loan just prior to Bunney’s return from injury. A striker converted to attacking left/wing back with a reputation for being a hard worker would suggest Evatt giving him another shot, but no rumours heard at all from the club or elsewhere.
Jason Lowe 28; Signed by Parky for our Championship return and latterly Bolton captain, Lowe has played a big part in three poor seasons. A good solid pro in my opinion but probably time to move on. The fact that Bolton have courted Spearing as his replacement tells a story. Rumour has it that he’s signed up with Blackpool and will be joining them at the start of next month.
Luke Murphy 30; looked like he’d had enough this season just gone. Not had a great time at all with Wanderers and a big disappointment for a player of his quality. Certainly moving on. Latest rumour is that he’s rejoining his first club Crewe.
Jacob Mellis 29; never seemed to fit in at Bolton. Mansfield wanted rid last January and Bolton were desperate. Has a pending court case later this year which casts a cloud over any contract extension. Not coming back to Bolton but apparently has had interest from both Hamilton and surprisingly, Swindon.
Will Buckley 30; still in the final weeks of a 6 month layoff after breaking his tibia just 7 minutes into his comeback on a new short term contract. Evatt needs wingers but I expect that he will be looking elsewhere. Buckley is another of last seasons Championship survivors whose time is up at Bolton.
Daryl Murphy 37; signed up for semi-retirement at his hometown club of Waterford back in Ireland.
Joe Dodoo 25; many fans thought that Joe would come good in his favoured striking role and was wasted being pushed out on the wing. Can’t say that I was a fan particularly. Anyhow he’s not coming back and looks to be joining Luke Murphy at Crewe.
Chris O’Grady 34; nothing heard at all but to use the words of Kieran Maguire, ‘I’d rather rim Ann Widdecombe’ than see him in a Bolton shirt again. The story of Keith Hill getting Chris to drop his shorts and then using a squatting Chris’s balls as a half time motivator sums up last season really.
Connor Hall 22; just never seemed to get the luck or break needed to make his mark at Bolton. Injury prevented a golden opportunity for Connor to show his worth during the admin start of season malarkey. Probably best trying his luck elsewhere, possibly dropping a league to get game time. Won’t be back at Bolton.