Bolton Wanderers have plenty of decision to make when it comes to midfielders, with plenty knocking around and the need to add some reinforcements in the summer. Lets take a look.
I will start with those I would definitely not be looking to move on.
Antoni Sarcevic proved his worth a number of times last season both while the team was struggling and while they were surging up the league. He should have enough about him to make an impact in League One, but I would be looking to ensure we have another player who can play that central attacking role to provide some real competition.
MJ Williams was another key player, with League One experience. He is another I would be looking to keep on, again with some new competition for that defensive midfield role.
Kieran Lee is a man with experience further up the pyramid and should be able to make an impact in League One. His experience will hopefully prove valuable as Bolton look to obtain another promotion.
George Thomason proved to be a critical figure in a number of games despite his youth. He should certainly be kept and will hopefully continue to push on. With his age, he would not form part of my 20 squad. This leaves three of my five midfield places taken.
On the flip side there are a couple who should definitely be moved on.
Brandon Comley simply was not able to make a break through into this team. He may well have been effective in the higher quality midfield which ended the season, but he never had the chance. He should be moved on to make space for some fresh blood.
Ali Crawford is one who had his chance and we were all excited about keeping on in the summer. He is one will we need to get rid of. Maybe Mr Onion can find a new job and take him on again?
There are though some harder decisions to make. One of these relates to Andrew Tutte, who was pivotal in Bolton’s first upturn in form last year. He can count himself as desperately unlucky to have completely lost his place in the team, but the fact is he now sits below Thomason, Lee and Williams so should be let go.
Sonny Graham is another defensive midfielder on our books and is out of contract this summer. At the age of 18 he could be kept on as the young back up behind Lee, Williams and Thomason, possibly while serving a work experience loan. That will depend how Ian Evatt views his future.
Popular academy graduate Ronan Darcy has almost become a forgotten man this season. He has another year on his contract and should in my view be kept on. The question is whether he should be kept around as back up for that central attacking midfield role, or whether a loan move may well be on the cards. At 20 years old he would offer useful depth for the squad, provided he has the right opportunities to play competitive football, and I would keep him around.
Beyond those established names are youngsters Max Conway, Matthew Tweedley, Kian Le Fondre and Mitchell Henry. Hopefully the opportunities will be in place for all of them to obtain the right experience next season with a possible ‘B-team’ being introduced.
I would be using the two squad spaces available to bring in a new deeper lying midfielder to screen the defence and a play maker for a central role, be that deep or more attacking.