Ryan Delaney has challenged his team-mates to seize the opportunity that comes with playing for Wanderers in the second half of the season.
A League Two promotion push has thus far fallen flat under Ian Evatt but the Whites head to Salford this afternoon bolstered by four deadline-day signings.
The manager is refusing to rule out an unlikely charge towards the play-offs between now and May with all eyes having been how Bolton would fare back in the fourth tier for just the second time in their history.
That iconic past, with recent memories of Premier League football and European nights, is something Delaney is determined to embrace.
“I think it has to inspire you,” the centre half said.
“As footballers everybody wants to be the best they can be and to play as high as you can. And to be at Bolton Wanderers is a massive deal for a player.
“Opportunities like this don’t happen every two years, you only get one opportunity like this and you have to take it with both hands.
“We’ve got a good group of lads and hopefully we will push on in the second half of the season and have a good finish.
“You have to strive for the top. There are 22 games left and I don’t think the table means much right now. And hopefully we will be right up there.
“The squad has a bit of everything. It has experience, youth and it’s really a positive sort of squad in terms of fighting for places.
“There is competition for places and that will push us on until the end of this season and we all want to be a part of the rise of this club.
“We want to bring some positivity to people’s lives right now. We are lucky we can leave our households, see team-mates and do things other people can’t do and a win on a Saturday means more for people at home than you might think. It can give people a boost.
“Salford is a really good test for us. They have a lot of quality in the side but we have shown at the start of the season we can be just as good as them on the day and Saturday is another opportunity to show it.”
Delaney returns to fold today after suspension and an injury at Tranmere that left his ear “hanging off”, according to Evatt.
There was also insult to injury with the Irishman later dismissed at Prenton Park for two bookable offences.
Delaney though has brushed it aside and if he features against the Ammies later today he will wear protective tape over the wound, which required 10 stitches.
“It’s healed up quite well,” he said. “I’ve got my stitches out and I’ve just got to keep it as safe as possible for a little while longer and then we’ll be back to normal.
“I’ve trained since the incident. I got my stitches in after the game and trained from Monday afterwards. I can play and train I’ve just tried to have as limited contact as possible.
“It was a collision with Liam Feeney. I’m still not 100 per cent sure what happened. We’ve watched it back on the video and it’s quite hard to see because it happened so quickly so that’s kind of still up the air.
“It was a tear from the outside of my ear inwards, in towards the cartilage. Straight away I knew something wasn’t right. I saw a few of the lads’ facial expressions and that said it all really. I’ve never heard of anything like that happening so it was a strange one really, But it’s all sorted now and I’ve put it behind me.
“You can’t go into things worrying or doubting yourself. You just have to go 100 per cent and go gung ho. I didn’t have any good looks in the first place!
“I thought I was very hard done by (with the red card), to be honest. But obviously people can make mistakes in games and referees can do the same just like any other person.
“That’s just the way it goes, you just have to take it as it comes.”
For Evatt, the way Delaney has approached the injury sums up his importance to the squad.
“Ryan is fine,” the Whites boss said. “He just gets on with it and hasn’t moaned the entire time.
“I haven’t heard him whinge once and he’s still going in for tackles and headers and that’s one of the reasons we think so much of him, his bravery is second to none.
“I think some of the lads feel that the injury has improved his looks a bit – but that’s for them to say, not me – but I think there has been a bit of banter flying around.
“He hasn’t missed a single day’s training and he’s the kind of lad that would make himself available with one leg, let alone one ear.
“He puts himself up there all the time and he’s exactly the type of character we want at the club.”