Football League World
·18 September 2023
Football League World
·18 September 2023
Bolton Wanderers enjoyed a fairly busy summer transfer window as they look to return to the Championship for the 2024/25 campaign.
Ian Evatt’s side narrowly missed out on promotion last time out by falling short in the play-off semi-finals at the hands of Barnsley, so they will be striving to go one better and finally make their way out of English football’s third-tier.
They have done their chances of doing just that no harm by welcoming eight new signings to the Toughsheet Community Stadium.
Here, we are ranking them from worst to best, based on their reputation at the time of signing...
A perennial deputy throughout his career, Coleman’s arrival has been met with little illusion over his role with the Trotters.
The 27-year-old joined back in June on a free transfer following his departure from Ipswich Town, where he was Kieran McKenna’s third-in-command and failed to get between the sticks even once.
His last bout of regular involvement came in the 2021/22 campaign, in which he turned out on 19 occasions in League Two for local neighbours Rochdale.
That said, he has previously kept goal in the third-tier for the likes of Oldham Athletic and Shrewsbury Town, so he does possess experience that can be called upon if required - but just whether it will be remains the question.
It emerged as something of a shock when Bolton decided to make N’Lundulu’s stay in the North West a permanent one over the summer.
The striker spent the second half of last season on loan from Southampton in a spell that yielded just one goal, which came against Bristol Rovers on the final day.
An energetic presence, there are certain factors of the forward’s game to like, but regular goalscoring form has often been elusive throughout his career.
Sure, strikers can peak later than players in other positions. However, it is yet to be seen if and when the penny will finally drop for the ex-Cheltenham Town man.
Summer signing Ashworth is very much up-and-coming, although he still has plenty to learn in the game.
Capable as either a left-back or left midfielder, Ashworth caught the eye with League One rivals Burton Albion last time out and made 18 appearances for the Brewers.
He appears to be held in high regard by parent club West Bromwich Albion, having turned out for the Baggies on six occasions to date.
That should not be taken lightly, but an arduous task awaits in displacing Randell Williams and it does feel as though the youngster’s capacity could be operating as second-fiddle.
Yet another player who turned heads while on loan in League One during the latter stages of the 2022/23 season, Maghoma’s performances for MK Dons in spite of their relegation certainly promise quite a lot.
Industrious off the ball but progressive on it, Maghoma has obtained a footballing curriculum with both Tottenham Hotspur and Brentford that could well stand out for the Trotters.
Granted, breaking into Bolton’s midfield is no easy task, but at the very least, he should provide beneficial strength in depth.
Evatt is no stranger to incorporating a youthful edge into the core of his squad, and 22-year-old Forrester is anything but an exception to that principle.
A graduate of Stoke City’s academy, Forrester made a strong impression during his first full campaign of senior football and sole season with their fierce rivals Port Vale prior to heading up to Bolton over the summer.
The central defender should prove a shrewd acquisition in the short and long-term.
Meanwhile, Dacres-Cogley was rewarded for two seasons of stellar service at Tranmere Rovers with a transfer to the top-end of League One - and it appears a real coup.
The energetic right-back notched eight assists throughout his stay at Preston Park, frequently earning plaudits for his marauding runs up and down the flank and deliveries into the area, while also maintaining the requisite defensive sharpness to warrant the show of faith that has been displayed from Evatt.
Indeed, Evatt’s system is tailor-made for him; Bolton operate with wing-backs that are tasked with supplementing width and creativity in order to feed the two strikers that they deploy up top.
With that in mind then, Victor Adeboyejo and Dion Charles should both reap the rewards from Dacres-Cogley’s teasing crosses from wide areas all season long.
This one feels like a real statement of intent.
Few could have imagined that Baxter would be playing League One football at this stage after he proved a star turn during the first of two loan stays with Hull City from Chelsea, in which he kept seven clean sheets from 16 matches, made no less than 66 saves and conceded only 17 times despite facing an xG of 25.83.
The numbers read well and they show what a reliable pair of hands Bolton now have at their disposal.
Baxter is also a graduate of the vaunted Chelsea youth system, where he has been able to develop the necessary distribution qualities that correspond with Evatt’s philosophy of playing out from the back.
Critics will point out that Baxter lost his way during his second spell at the MKM Stadium, but still aged just 24 - remarkably young in goalkeeping terms - there is plenty yet to come.
Mendes Gomes was always in line for a top-of-the-range third-tier switch after impressing on loan at Fleetwood Town.
Of course, Bolton ended up being the ex-Atletico Madrid prospect’s latest destination, and that decision should pay dividends in due course.
Quite where he fits in at this stage is a speculative topic, as Bolton’s formation is not so accommodating for a player that has predominantly operated as a winger, but he possesses the positional flexibility to also play as an attacking midfielder or up top.
You can imagine that his versatility will come up trumps over the duration of a trying 46-game slog, and Evatt will surely have to find a place for Mendes Gomes before long.
Having scored seven times for Fleetwood in the previous campaign along with lighting up League Two for Morecambe to earn his move to Luton Town in the first place, Mendes Gomes will quite simply provide an x-factor in the final third at this level and can be expected to play a key role at Bolton.