Ian Evatt has challenged a raft of talent nearing the end of their Wanderers contract to play their way to a new deal.
Next summer a total of 20 players could become free agents at the University of Bolton Stadium, including first team stars Kieran Lee, Antoni Sarcevic, Nathan Delfouneso, Matt Gilks and Liam Gordon.
MJ Williams is also in the list, although he has a 12-month extension clause in his contract which will most likely be triggered by appearances.
Evatt says he is keeping his options open as the club looks to maintain a promotion challenge in League One, but the Bolton boss reckons the players can also force the issue with their performances on the pitch.
“It is too early at the moment, there is a lot of football to be played between now and then,” he said, asked if contract talks were on the agenda.
“We are looking at it all the time but for now we’re focussed on achieving what we need to achieve.
“The ones who are out of contract, the best way to get a new one is by playing out of their skin. For now, that is what they need to concentrate on doing.”
The professional contract of Matt Gilks, MJ Williams, Nathan Delfouneso, Antoni Sarcevic, Andy Tutte, Kieran Lee, Dennis Politic, George Thomason, Liam Edwards, Alex Baptiste, Brandon Comley, Liam Gordon, Ali Crawford, Adam Senior, Luke Hutchinson, Reiss Greenidge, Matt Alexander, Ryan Colvin, Finlay Lockett and Jay Fitzmartin is due to expire in summer 2022 – and though the number includes a handful of younger players without first team experience and some loanees whose future clearly lies elsewhere, Wanderers will have decisions to make before too much longer.
Asked about his contract situation, club captain Sarcevic says he has not had any discussion with the club to date – but does not plan to allow it to distract him in the coming months.
“I haven’t had anything but then that’s not for me to say. If this year is my last year at Bolton Wanderers, it’s been probably the best time in my football career.
“That’s football. I get that question, but for me, I just want to concentrate on the pitch stuff and concentrate on what we’re doing this year.”
Wanderers take on Shrewsbury Town this afternoon at the UniBol sitting seventh – a remarkable achievement given they have had to come from behind in eight of their 10 league games so far.
“I think the gaffer has been a bit frustrated by that,” Sarcevic added. “But the character and the way we play – that kind of thing can happen but we know we’ll create chances. When we take them, you get games like Tuesday night at Charlton.
“If Shrewsbury get a goal early on again, we know there’s 90 minutes in a game of football and we’ve just got to make sure we concentrate on what we’re doing to make sure that we can try and break them down and win the game.”