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Bolton Wanderers players - who has the most experience of Wembley?

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse

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Wanderers will attempt to take some of the pressure off their players by travelling down to Wembley the day before the Papa Johns Trophy final and having a walk around the stadium.

Ian Evatt believes that touring the facilities and getting a first-hand look at the sprawling seats before they are filled with 65,000-plus supporters on April 2 will be invaluable, especially to those in the squad who have never sampled such an atmosphere before.

Just seven of Evatt’s players have played at Wembley, and one of their wisest heads – Jon Dadi Bodvarsson – is currently injured and unavailable to turn out against Plymouth Argyle.

Wanderers have one of the youngest squads in League One, averaging 25.6 years, which puts them sixth overall behind Lincoln City (24.4), Barnsley (25), Peterborough (25.1), Forest Green (25.1) and Charlton (25.4). Plymouth, meanwhile, sit 11th on an average of 25.9 years, according to

And it is for the younger players’ benefit that the squad will journey to London two days before the game, training at Premier League Brentford, before taking some time to absorb the scenery at Wembley the following day.

Evatt has never managed a side at Wembley but played there three times as a player.

The first was for Blackpool in 2007, a 2-0 win against Yeovil that pushed them into the Championship. And a few years later, another play-off final victory – this time against Cardiff City – helped the Seasiders into the Premier League.

Playing alongside Evatt that day were future Bolton players Matt Gilks, Alex Baptiste, Paul Rachubka, Barry Bannan and Stephen Dobbie.

After relegation from the top flight, Blackpool nearly sealed an immediate return the following season, losing 2-1 to West Ham in the play-off final. Sam Allardyce’s Hammers were predictably Bolton-influenced, with Kevin Nolan, Matt Taylor and winning goalscorer Ricardo Vaz Te all involved.

In Chesterfield colours another defeat followed against Peterborough United in the 2014 Johnstone’s Paint Trophy – although Lloyd Isgrove did get his hands on the trophy as a member of the opposing team.

Evatt then missed out on a fourth appearance with defeat to Preston North End over two legs in the 2014/15 League One play-off semi-finals. Celebrating that day were former Wanderers Jermaine Beckford and Kevin Davies.

A couple of other Bolton players have fallen at the final hurdle in the play-offs – Kyle Dempsey twice with Fleetwood Town and Victor Adeboyejo with Barnsley, but which members of the dressing room have the most experience of playing at Wembley? We took a look down their playing CVs.

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Lloyd Isgrove – The Welsh wide man sits at the top of Wanderers’ Wembley veterans with three appearances during his career.

His first was an eight-minute cameo off the bench for Peterborough United in the 2014 Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, helping Posh complete a 3-1 win against a Chesterfield side that boasted Evatt, Sam Hird and Eoin Doyle.

Two years later he was back again… Twice! On loan with Barnsley, the winger lifted the 2016 Johnstone’s Paint Trophy by beating Oxford United 3-2 and then followed it up with an even bigger prize, with a win against Millwall in the League One play-off final.

Isgrove scored the third goal for Paul Heckingbottom’s side, who would later sign him in the Championship on a permanent basis. On the losing team for the Lions that day were soon-to-be Wanderers Mark Beevers and Chris Taylor.

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Cameron Jerome – The first of his two Wembley appearances was a big one, as Birmingham City shocked Arsenal to lift the Carling Cup in 2011. Obafemi Martins scored the famous last-minute winner for the Blues, with Jerome coming off the bench late on – and getting a yellow card for his troubles.

In the 2014/15 campaign he helped Norwich City into the Championship play-off final, and scored the opening goal of the game as the Canaries beat Middlesbrough 2-0.

Nathan Redmond scored the second for Norwich, and future Wanderer Gary O’Neil also came off the bench late on to see his side home.

Jerome missed out to Tim Ream’s Fulham in the Championship play-off semi-finals with Derby County in 2017/18, and then again with Luton Town last season, this time to Huddersfield.

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Josh Sheehan – Of all the Wanderers players, the Welsh midfielder probably has the biggest score to settle at Wembley having twice been beaten in extra-time at the stadium.

Both occasions were as a Newport County player, the first against Tranmere in the 2018/19 League Two play-off final. Sheehan was substituted in the last minute of normal time with the scores still at 0-0 after team-mate Mark O’Brien had been sent off.

Connor Jennings eventually made their numerical advantage count with a goal to sent the Birkenhead men up to League One in the 119 minute.

A year later, Newport were back at Wembley again, this time to take on Morecambe. And after a tight game went into extra time, Carlos Mendes Gomes converted a 117th minute penalty to send the Shrimps into the third tier along with Bolton, Cambridge United and Cheltenham Town.

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Kieran Lee - Surprisingly, given his long career, his one-and-only Wembley experience was an unhappy one. Playing for Sheffield Wednesday in the 2015/16 Championship play-off final, Mohamed Diame’s solitary goal gave Hull City promotion to the Premier League at the Owls’ expense.

Lee then missed out at the semi-final stage a year later with defeat to Elias Kachunga’s Huddersfield Town.

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Elias Kachunga – Speak of the devil; Kachunga has a 100 per cent record at Wembley after he helped Huddersfield Town claim a place in the Premier League in 2016/17.

Kachunga played 66 minutes against Reading in the final and watched from the bench as Christopher Schindler netted the decisive penalty in the shoot-out.

An ankle injury prevented him from playing for the Terriers at Tottenham the following season, Spurs then playing their home games at Wembley during the demolition at White Hart Lane.

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Randell Williams - He probably won’t want to be reminded of the one occasion he has played at Wembley so far – a 4-0 defeat for Exeter City against Northampton Town in the 2019/20 League Two play-off final.

Ex-Wanderer Dean Moxey was sent off just before the hour mark with his side two down, and it would be Breightmet lad Nicky Adams – injured midway through the first half – who got his hands on the winners’ trophy.

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Jon Dadi Bodvarsson - Played for Iceland against England in the Nations League at Wembley in November 2020 – a time when football had to close its doors to supporters because of the pandemic.

The game finished 4-0 to England with Phil Foden on target twice. Bodvarsson would probably rather remember a previous encounter with the Three Lions at the 2016 World Cup in Germany.

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