On the face of it, Dion Charles could be just what the doctor ordered at Wanderers.
A 6ft striker who scored 20 goals for Accrington Stanley last season, earning a call-up to the Northern Ireland squad, it is a matter of months since reports saddled him with a £2million price tag and a Championship future.
Since then, Charles has suffered a frustrating drop off in fortunes, playing just eight times for his club this term and being frozen out in the reserves over his reluctance to sign a new contract.
Stanley have said they would entertain “acceptable offers” for the 26-year-old in January, and over the last few weeks, whispers have grown louder that Wanderers are lining up a bid.
Ian Evatt has spoken openly about improving his attacking options next month, insisting that he has the transfer budget to attract the sort of player who can make an impact in the second half of the season.
Charles ticks a lot of boxes. He has physical presence but remains mobile, ranked in the top six League One strikers for shots-per-game in 2020/21, and scored a variety of different types of goals – potentially making him a valid alternative, or even foil, to current first choice number nine, Eoin Doyle.
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Perhaps more importantly, the Preston-born front man appears durable, having played 40 and 52 games for Stanley over the last two campaigns. Whether his recent lack of competitive football proves a help, or a hindrance, remains to be seen.
Amadou Bakayoko was billed as the more powerful alternative to Doyle but his fitness issues since the summer mean Bolton fans have only seen a brief glimpse of his potential worth to the side.
Charles cut his footballing teeth at Blackpool and played his formative years at Fylde and Fleetwood, which do not make his links to Evatt such a giant leap.
The most prohibitive factor, without question, is that of finance and whether Wanderers really are in the position to be shelling out cash fees next month.
Indeed, it was Charles’s international team-mate Josh Magennis who was the last player to arrive at Bolton for a cash fee – some £200,000 tempting him to Lancashire under Phil Parkinson from Charlton Athletic in the summer of 2018. One can only hope he does not ask him for references.
Magennis remains the only cash fee paid for a permanent or loan player by Bolton since Neil Lennon paid £75,000 for Czech midfielder Filip Twardzik from his former club Celtic on winter transfer deadline day 2015. The 2,500-day anniversary of that momentous occasion passed by only last week.
Even though Charles has just six months remaining on his contract, the rhetoric from Stanley boss John Coleman suggests any deal to let him leave the Wham Stadium will be done on their terms, for now.
Coleman claims the striker reneged on an agreement to sign a new contract if he was not sold in the previous window but that the offer of a new deal remained on the table.
He also added that the Charles had been “misguided” by the advice he had been given.
The striker has scored a single goal this term, in the Carabao Cup win at Rotherham United, and found the going tougher in the final few months of last season, scoring two penalties in the same game against Doncaster – his only goals in the final nine league games.
With the January now just a few weeks away, however, Coleman accepts there may be a compromise to be struck down the line.
"If someone comes in with the right bid for him of course he'll go. It's got to be right for him as well, he doesn't have to just go to the first club that comes for him," he said.
"One of the things about being a manager is you have to see things from both perspectives and sometimes players don't see it from both perspectives they just see it from their own.
"Dion won't be the first player that has gone down that road. I've only ever tried to be fair with players and I only ever will try to be fair with players."
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