Tom Eaves joined Owen Coyle's Bolton Wanderers side in August 2010 following a pre-season friendly between the Trotters and Eaves' old side, Oldham Athletic. Oldham would win that match 3-0 with Eaves scoring all three goals on the day. After signing for Wanderers, the tall forward went straight into the reserves, where he plied his trade for nearly three years. Eaves was handed his Bolton Wanderers debut as a late substitute for an injured David Ngog in a 3-2 away loss to Leicester City.
The tall forward found success away from the Reebok during a pair of loan spells, first at Bristol Rovers and then at Shrewsbury Town. At League Two Rovers, Eaves scored 7 times in 15 appearances, helping a struggling Bristol Side. The time at League One Shrewsbury Town saw the Bolton man score 6 times in 10 appearances, including a hat trick against Crawley Town. That loan move was cut short in order for Eaves to return to Bolton to make his debut.