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Every Bolton players rated for the 2021/22 season in League One

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karlypants

karlypants
Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse

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Wanderers might have missed out on their play-off target, paying for a poor run of results in October and January, but their fine finish to the season ensured supporters left the UniBol in optimistic mood last weekend.

More fans watched Bolton than ever before at this level of football, and Ian Evatt’s side took more points and scored more goals than anyone else in League One from January 15 onwards.

But taking a step back and assessing the whole campaign, who were the players whose light continued to shine through the tough times, and whose arrival sparked that run of late form?

Chief football writer Marc Iles goes through the first team squad to give his individual verdict.

DAPO AFOLAYAN – 44 starts, 7 subs, 14 goals – Added some serious end product to his game this season, carrying the team at times before Christmas. Wanderers’ player of the year and the man opposing side fear the most. 8.5 out of 10.

WILL AIMSON – 24(3)/1 – Had to be patient for his chance to come along and when it did, he didn’t let anyone down as a pure defender. Wins his duels as well as anyone, even if his passing doesn’t catch the eye like some. 6.5/10.

XAVIER AMAECHI – 3(9)/1 – Looked last summer’s best technical signing but picked up the most unfortunately timed injury in pre-season. By his return the team had lost its way and another January rebuild unfortunately left him in limbo. 5/10.

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AMADOU BAKAYOKO – 17(20)/13 – A fine start to the campaign was dashed by injury and while he has never quite looked as effective starting games as he is coming off the bench, he turned his season around impressively. 7/10.

ALEX BAPTISTE – 12(6)/1 – It had been a reduced role for one of last season’s warriors and behind the scenes he was an important voice for Ian Evatt in the dressing room. One hopes he stays in football, at Bolton or elsewhere. 6/10.

JON DADI BODVARSSON – 10(11)/7 – Out of favour and unhappy at Millwall, the Icelander has found a new home at Bolton since January and looks a marvellous bit of business. Manages to look a dangerous finisher and selfless at the same time. 8/10.

HARRY BROCKBANK – 5(2)/0 – Moved on to play in America after a tough start to the season. His service to the club in their hour of need won’t be forgotten in a hurry, though. 5/10.

DION CHARLES – 23(2)/8 – Packed a lot into less than four months at Bolton. Kicked off on a controversial note after historical tweets were picked up by the FA but on the pitch he has been the type of all-action front man Bolton fans love. 7/10.

NATHAN DELFOUNESO – 7(13)/2 – Loaned out to Bradford in January but not before filling in as a midfielder in a real low point of Bolton’s season. Never really recovered from missing a penalty against Wigan. 4/10.

KYLE DEMPSEY – 5(6)/0 – We haven’t seen the best of Dempsey because of injury but his energetic style does set him apart from other midfielders in the squad. Looking forward to seeing him fit and firing. 5/10.

JOEL DIXON - 29(0)/0 – Took over from Matt Gilks as number one and while his error count never got near to Crellin territory, his confidence certainly took a hit with some of the results in late 2021. Hard to see him challenging again. 5/10.

EOIN DOYLE – 24(3)/8 – Departed for Ireland in January having never looked at his very best in League One. Will score goals wherever he goes but he and Evatt knew they had to level up in the transfer window. 6/10.

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MARLON FOSSEY – 16(0)/1 – The Fulham wing-back’s star shone bright before his season was ended by injury and it is little surprise that the Bolton supporters are desperate to see him back at the UniBol. Wonderful to watch. 8/10.

LIAM GORDON – 15(6)/0 – Gordon’s game improved after last season’s loan at Dagenham and had the B Team been in operation sooner, he might have been one for the future. Left with the best wishes of everyone after always giving it his all. 6/10.

LLOYD ISGROVE - 18(6)/0 – Horrendous luck with injury, having been one of Bolton’s best performers prior to Christmas, even playing out of position at wing-back. Here’s hoping for a full recovery. 6/10.

DECLAN JOHN - 43(1)/5 – Struggled for form early in the season when asked to play as a traditional full-back but sparkled after getting a more advanced role. Added goals, assists and a touch of class to the left side. 7/10.

GEORGE JOHNSTON – 43(5)/2 – Heavily relied upon in good times and bad, Wanderers’ young player of the year has learned some valuable lessons. If he can be a touch more streetwise, he has the potential to be a top player. 7/10.

GETHIN JONES – 29(2)/0 – The vice-captain has coped with injury and close family bereavement this season but brought an air of stability to the team whenever he has turned out. One of the unsung heroes. 7.5/10.

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ELIAS KACHUNGA – 22(19)/4 – Without a pre-season he had to find fitness out on the pitch, which took time. Injury struck just when he hit top form, and now with other attacking options he faces a real fight for a starting spot. 6/10.

KIERAN LEE – 24(6)/6 – When fit, still the best pound-for-pound player in the team. The challenge for Bolton and Lee will be to make that the case next season as he approaches his 34th birthday. Fingers and toes crossed they can. 7/10.

MJ WILLIAMS – 43(1)/1 – Never quite hit the heights he did last season, with injuries and illness getting in the way, but there is still no-one else in the squad that can add the defensive balance to midfield that he can. 6.5/10.

AARON MORLEY – 21(0)/1 – Long-term, might be the best signing Bolton made in January. Already shown progression playing alongside Williams and has a range of passing to die for. Scope for so much more too. Exciting. 7.5/10.

KIERAN SADLIER – 8(9)/4 – Sadlier’s ability to play in several positions has allowed Evatt much more tactical flexibility and wherever the former Rotherham man plays, he looks capable of scoring a goal. 7/10.

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RICARDO SANTOS – 43(0)/0 – Definitely taken his game to another level this season and if he could add goals, we could be looking at the complete package. Stepped up as captain and commands respect in the squad. 8/10.

ANTONI SARCEVIC – 14(3)/3 – The circumstances of his exit in October will forever hang over his Bolton career, as will some of his online behaviour since joining Stockport County. Shame, as his on-field contribution had always been sound. 5.5/10.

JOSH SHEEHAN – 16(4)/4 – The Welshman had a promising start which was ruined by a bad knee injury, and it is exciting to think he will be challenging Morley, Williams, Lee and Co next term. 6/10.

GEORGE THOMASON – 17(4)/1 – Coming up to 50 senior appearances now and starting to look physically more matched for life in League One. 6/10.

JAMES TRAFFORD – 22(0)/0 – Considering the furore over his lack of experience when he arrived, Trafford has turned out to be a real victory for Bolton’s recruitment department. Shown Premier League class at times, but would still benefit greatly from a whole season under Evatt. Here’s hoping. 7.5/10.

Also featured: Brandon Comley 1(0)/0, Ronan Darcy 0(1)/0, Liam Edwards 0(1)/0, Matt Gilks 4(0)/0, Mitchell Henry 0(4)/0, Arran Pettifer 0(2)/0, Adam Senior 2(0)/0, Andy Tutte 0(1)/0, Matty Tweedley 0(1)/0.

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