A hamstring injury to Liam Bridcutt, which is likely to side-line the defensive midfielder for a few weeks, is likely to mean a recall for the full-back against Burton Albion in the first game of 2020.
Signed on a short-term deal back in August which runs to January, the left-back looked a shoo-in for an extended deal up until a few weeks ago when Josh Earl’s return, coupled with Bridcutt’s selection as a defender, left him staring on from the bench.
With space so tight in Keith Hill’s embargo-constricted squad, it became possible that Chicksen could be the unfortunate one sacrificed in a January shuffle. But a solid display as a substitute against Shrewsbury Town and the prospect of another outing today could give the manager some timely food for thought as Bolton enter into another 10-day break without a game.
“My ambition is to stay here other than that I just need to perform in order to give myself a chance to get a contract,” Chicksen had said prior to the Shrewsbury game.
“Nothing else matters to me but playing games and playing well for this club.”
Chicksen’s resolve is understandable. At 28, he has a little under 200 league games under his belt and arrived at Bolton after a difficult spell at Bradford City.
Though the defender topped 50 appearances for the Bantams, he did so in unhappy times. And his release after their relegation from League Two left the player and his young family searching for options.
Bolton’s need was obvious. Lacking a recognised senior left-back after Earl’s early-season injury, he was drafted in for the 6-1 defeat at Rotherham – a debut of some considerable heft – but recovered to gain a measure of consistency in the months to come.
Though it is still uncertain that Hill will definitely offer a longer stay, the Bolton boss may utilise his eagerness to impress when he names a starting line-up against Burton.
For Chicksen, his main aim is simply to establish himself at Bolton and ensure the next 12 months is a stable one.
“That’s what I put my career down to now,” he said. “It’s been an up and down year due to the fact I was out of a club in the summer but then I’ve had the high of coming here to Bolton and getting back to playing football.
“I’m really happy at the moment, I’m just enjoying my life at the minute, I’ve got my baby, got my wife, everyone’s healthy, I’m playing games and I’m happy.
“I’ve enjoyed every minute; I’ve come in to meet the demands of what the manager and club are requiring. I’ve loved playing games, loved the amount of effort and work we’ve had to put in and I’m just enjoying my time.”
Wanderers have regained a measure of form in the last few games, showing impressive stubbornness to secure draws against Shrewsbury and Sunderland. And Chicksen believes those performances bode well for the survival fight in the New Year.
“The season, as a whole, is never going to go perfectly. If it does, you’ll be top of the table, but it’s about bounce-backability.
“It is about knowing as a group of lads that you are still together. You have got to be there. Losing games is part and parcel of football. It is how you react."