With the opening game of the season less than three weeks away and serious repair work needed on the senior squad, great consideration is now being given as to which of Bolton’s young players could step up and play a part in League One.
Ronan Darcy laid down a marker at the end of last season and Wanderers still hope to be able to sort a contract out quickly for homegrown defender Harry Brockbank, who has been training with the squad.
Darby believes a close eye should be kept on 19-year-old winger, Politic, who spent most of last season on loan with Salford City and whose return to Lostock this summer has been a big positive at a time of great uncertainty.
"Darby believes a close eye should be kept on 19-year-old winger, Politic, who spent most of last season on loan with Salford City and whose return to Lostock this summer has been a big positive at a time of great uncertainty.
“Dennis is a talent,” Darby told The Bolton News. “When he gets on the ball, things happen.
“We had about three or four shots in the first half (against York) and he had them all.
“The one, from the half-way line, was a great effort. He did that on loan at Salford last season and he has definitely got something about him.”
Romania-born Politic picked up an injury at the end of last season, meaning he missed out of Salford’s promotion to the EFL via the Conference play-offs. But the winger made a good impression on Graham Alexander’s side and looked like he would be heading back out on loan this season, had the takeover been completed quickly.
That could mean he gets an early crack at League One football, and Darby is optimistic he can score goals at the higher level.
“We have seen that all the way through since he came in at Under-15s and 16s, he scored goals for the Under-18s, scored them for the 23s when he was here, and he did for Salford in the Conference last year. I’m excited to see where he goes.”
Phil Parkinson watched from the stands on Sunday as a mixture of Under-23s, 18s and 16s were beaten by a single goal at Bootham Crescent, while Darby, Nicky Spooner and Gavin McCann directed operations from the dugout.
The decision not to play the handful of contracted players has attracted some criticism from supporters but did make a timely statement about the precarious balance within a squad which will be expected to do battle against Wycombe Wanderers on August 3.
Until administration is over, it is unlikely the club will be offering out contracts or making new signings. And until a suitable squad can be formed, and some stability restored, the better free agents are reluctant to step forward and commit themselves to a trial.
That could mean some of the fresh young faces who took to the field at York have to be fast-tracked to the senior ranks ahead of time.
Darby has worked at close quarters with many of them in training over the last fortnight and feels there is talent to be harnessed.
“I think they showed they’ve got a chance,” he said.
“The young lad (Yoann) Zouma did well at centre-half. He was a presence, he was aggressive. People won’t be beating him in a race because he’s very quick.
“Dennis (Politic) has definitely got something and I think we’ve seen what Ronan Darcy can do at the end of last season when he came on against Forest.
“There are others knocking on the door as well. They’re training with us every day at the moment, which you’d like to think the more they train, the more they’ll come on.
“It’s hard when you come into a first-team environment because it is a step up, the tempo rises and if you give the ball away cheaply, they’ll be at you. You have got to learn quickly and it’s a sink or swim kind of thing.
"You have to get in there, work your socks off and hopefully show that quality to keep yourself there.”
Sunday’s game was settled by a single Alex Kemster goal, scored rather fortuitously after a mix-up between defender, Jordan Boon, and keeper, Matt Alexander.
Darby was impressed by the way both players dealt with the mistake and recovered their poise.
“They are two young boys,” he said. “The keeper, Matty, I thought was excellent and made some good saves but he’s 17, still growing and still learning the game.
“Jordan is 18 and still doing the same. It was an honest mistake and they’re going to make them – it’s pre-season.
“You have to be brave in this game. If you go and hide after that you’ve got no chance.
“You still have to show for the ball, give little angles, and show what a good player you are.”
If anyone is qualified to talk about how difficult the current situation at Wanderers has got, it’s a man who has been with the club at its very best, and very worst.
As a player he competed in three different divisions, had one relegation, two promotions and played in just about every outfield position.
So while Darby can compare Bolton’s money woes with the dark old days of Fourth Division football under Phil Neal, he admits there has never been a time in his career where so many players had gone without wages.
“I’m not sure I’ve seen anything like this in my time at Bolton,” he said. “There were times in the late eighties when we went down to the old Fourth Division and things were a bit hairy. There was no money about but we managed to get back up.
“I’ve never seen people go without pay like this in my whole career, though. I’ve been in football for 35 years and I have never seen anything like what’s happened. It must be soul destroying.
“We’re day to day at the minute. The manager speaks with the administrators, so you’d have to ask him where they are up to. I just try and get on with things, get out there on the grass and enjoy the training as best I can.”
Darby revealed after the game on Sunday that the first team players had “not been ready” for action, prompting the decision – taken late on Friday - to leave them behind.
Luke Murphy had been suffering from a calf strain – but the first team coach insists there was nothing more sinister behind the choice to play younger players at York.
Wanderers travel to Chester on Friday night for their second friendly, where Darby expects more of the first team players will be involved.
“Definitely. A week down the line you’d think they will be ready.
“It has been tough but, to be fair, the lads have trained well.”