With just over a month to go before the January transfer window, the Bolton boss has big plans to improve his squad despite being stymied by a two-year transfer embargo.
Hill and David Flitcroft had to rapidly assemble a squad on their arrival at the UniBol back in August, making nine signings on deadline day and a few more thereafter.
But with new ownership now bedded down, the management team are looking to employ a more structured approach to bringing players to the club next month.
“It’s hard to look past your nose at the moment but January, I believe will be one of the most important windows,” he said. “I keep professing this.
“The next two – January and the summer – we have to get right. They are important building blocks for next season and the one after.
“You have to have some continuity if you want to build a football club. You can just keep having this scattergun recruitment drive, you have to develop a nucleus of players to build on and build from.
“You need that stable foundation, a backbone of a squad, going into any window – then make sure you get out of it stronger.”
Wanderers went into the season with only a handful of senior players whose preparation in the summer had been hampered by the chaotic nature of life in administration, followed by a change in manager.
The flurry of new signings – all of whom arrived at different levels of fitness – then had to be settled into the squad, which has not been without its problems. Injuries have been a regular pitfall for Hill, hitting harder in what is still a skeletal squad.
There have also been admiring glances towards some of Bolton’s younger players. Ronan Darcy and Dennis Politic have both been monitored, although the club has vehemently played down the likelihood of them leaving in the near future.
Hill feels the next two windows should be about building rather than juggling, as they were so often for his predecessor Phil Parkinson.
Embargo rules mean they cannot pay fees for permanent or loan deals, and that they are also restricted on the basic wage and length of contract they can offer.
Business can be done, however, and Hill is looking forward to bringing in reinforcements to create more competition within his squad in the second half of the campaign.
“I am hopeful that whatever goes on we can have successful January and summer windows where our recruitment is good but on top of that, we have to retain players,” he said.
“You have to maintain that structure and then build everyone’s belief that there is a real intent here and that things are getting better.
“The players want to see improvement, they want to see ambition, they want to see us recruiting players who are going to stimulate growth within the squad and rivalry within the group.
“I don’t want, and the players don’t want a culture where you are thinking ‘I’m playing Saturday irrespective of whether I am in good form or indifferent form’. You need that competitive nature all the time.
“You need players who are going to come in and make it uncomfortable for others to get a shirt for the existing players. I need 22 players who are all competing for a starting 11 place, not 13.”
Wanderers must also decide on their current loanees Josh Earl (Preston North End), Jake Wright (Sheffield United), Liam Bridcutt (Nottingham Forest) and Thibaud Verlinden (Stoke City), who are all due to return to their parent clubs at the start of next year.
Stoke refused to allow Verlinden to be cup-tied earlier this month, suggesting they could bring the Belgian winger back regardless of Bolton’s wishes, but Earl, Wright and Bridcutt would seemingly be available with their parent clubs going well in the divisions above.