Adam Senior’s time on the pitch last season may have been limited but his willingness to help out his boyhood club in any way possible made him one of Wanderers’ unsung heroes.
Had times been different, the young defender might well have taken up his old position in the stands watching Bolton when he was not required in the matchday squad.
But so keen was he to muck in for Ian Evatt’s squad that Senior travelled around the country – even filling in for kit man Ted Moulden when he was in self-isolation.
Senior was chief cheerleader among peripheral staff and players placed in socially distanced seats around the dugout, as the terraces of League Two lay bare in the pandemic.
This season, however, the former St Joseph’s High School pupil is hopeful he can put his passion for Wanderers to use on the pitch as well.
The ultra-athletic centre-half had already shown up well in the pre-season games before scoring a winner as captain on Tuesday night at Chorley. Senior himself admits the path to regular first team football is a tough one – but with loan football and a regular reserve team being put out in the Central League this season, he will have ample opportunity to prove to Evatt that his game is developing well.
“Obviously everyone wants to play with the first team,” he told The Bolton News. “But I think you've got to be realistic and we have got four good centre halves who are obviously older and in front of me.
“I think with the development team and Hirdy (Sam Hird), it will be good to learn.
“Hirdy is a good coach. He has played the game and he is not the biggest centre-half, so I think that will help massively to learn from him, along with the gaffer and Pete (Atherton). They are all centre-halves so I think the development squad, or whatever you want to call it this season, will benefit and we might also have the odd senior pro, which will be good for experience.”
Senior may not be at the stage where he is rivalling Alex Baptiste or Ricardo Santos directly for a place in the side, but he has benefitted greatly from watching the pair at close quarters last season.
He had a brief taste of first team football in Wanderers’ last League One incarnation and feels he has picked up pointers which are bringing along his own game.
“It was good last year to learn from all the lads, and the new ones,” he said. “It’s a completely different team to the one we had in League One last time.
“Last season was good for me. I didn’t play a lot, I played four games all season, but I knew that would happen because obviously I’m young and we had to get out of the league.
“I went to every game last year with the squad, so watching Rico and Baps, it was good to learn and take notes.
“It was a tough season but the last four or three months we were unbelievable which helped massively to boost the camp.”
Senior has sampled the ups and down of being a Bolton Wanderers supporter – watching the team in Europe, drop out of the Premier League a decade ago, and fall into the bottom reaches of the Football League in recent years.
He has picked up on the town’s optimism in pre-season, however, built on League Two promotion and the return of supporters after 18 months away.
“I think you have to take it all into account,” he said. “It is brilliant to see the fans back.
“It is just completely different to last pre-season when we were playing Bamber Bridge in an empty stadium, it’s hard to get going, but when you come running out and there are Bolton fans, it’s good because it gives you that boost and obviously when you hear the singing.
“It’s unbelievable because you get a big push and you want to just drive forward.”
Ian Evatt has voiced his encouragement for Senior and his attitude since returning for pre-season with the Whites, rewarding him with the captain’s armband at Chorley in midweek.
Senior is also impressed by the quality of training sessions this summer, which put Wanderers in fine fettle as they prepare for the new League One campaign.
“He’s a top manager,” Senior said of Evatt. “Everything is perfect, even in training.
“The pass detail, they’re always on to it - him, Pete and Hirdy. It is unbelievable when you think about it and look from the outside. They are always on top of it and it shows when we play.
“You can see we do a lot of passing drills, the detail of the pass, you can see because that comes from the training pitch, from the gaffer and his staff, which drives the high standards.”
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