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Phil Parkinson praises his "maverick" youngsters

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse
New young heroes have emerged in troubled times at Wanderers, exotic names and fresh faces that fans might not have recognised months earlier.

Stadium announcers may have to tread carefully reading out the team-sheet when Callum King-Harmes, Finlay Hurford-Lockett and De-Marlio Brown-Sterling are around but their efforts in testing circumstances have been thoroughly appreciated on the terraces.

Two names more familiar to Bolton fans before this summer’s chaos were Dennis Politic and Ronan Darcy, an attacking pair who had created quite the buzz as they made their way through Nicky Spooner’s Under-18s and into David Lee’s development squad.

For those who need an introduction, Politic is a swaggering midfielder who looks to have benefitted greatly from his loan spell at Salford City last season. Darcy - a more slightly-built playmaker with an eye for goal - is very much in the mould of another former product of the Eddie Davies Academy, Zach Clough Phil Parkinson reckons both will be central to success at Prenton Park tomorrow, although a recurring hip problem could limit the amount of time Politic can spend on the pitch.

“I think they are talented players, final-third players who can produce something special. To me, that’s what football is all about,” he told The Bolton News.

“Dennis always looks to get his shot away. Maybe too often from inside his own half at times.

“But you can’t take that creativity away from him, that kind of maverick nature that he’s got.

“Ronan has done very, very well in the last couple of games, we’ve been really pleased with him.

“The good thing about those two, they came back in pre-season and led the running. I was so pleased with that because there had been quite a bit of talk about them but they rolled their sleeves up and said ‘we’re going to make sure we have a good summer’.

“They came back right at the front and led the charge.”

After earning a wonderful point at home to Coventry last weekend, reality hit home in the Carabao Cup at Rochdale after a promising first hour.

Parkinson was able to bring back three senior players, Remi Matthews, Jason Lowe and Luke Murphy, but concedes there is too heavy a workload being placed on the younger elements of his squad.

“We have got problems for the weekend, there’s no doubt about that,” he said.

“We knew, as a staff, it would be a risk to play the kids again. But there are so few options and we wanted to give them a taste of a Lancashire derby, a cup tie, because they need to learn these things.

“I know the result wasn’t great but the experience will benefit them.”

The omission of senior players against Coventry – sparked by their reluctance to feature and risk injury – did bring about criticism from large numbers of the Bolton support.

Parkinson explained the reasons for his decision and was pleased with fans’ reaction at Rochdale when the trio were reintroduced to the squad.

“As I explained before the game, on Thursday we were lifted because we’d been told there would be a press conference to announce the takeover, and we’d all been waiting for that,” he said.

“Then on Friday we got knocked again, with all the High Court injunction stuff.

“I had a meeting with the lads on Friday morning and felt that rather than go the whole day trying to lift them, having gone through so much, we decided to go with the younger, fresher squad.

“The lads came back in on Monday and I thought their heads were clearer. I felt it was right to put them back in at Rochdale.

“I spoke to them Monday and said I felt it was the right think to do, take the weekend, because it hit them like a tonne of bricks. We honestly thought it was that close and then we get that news it wasn’t going to happen.

“I’m pleased they went out at Rochdale. The small group of senior players we have had work hard, and they have done well with our younger players, encouraging them all the time.”


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