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Bolton Wanderers players marked out of 10 for 2022/23 season

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse

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Wanderers might not have finished on a high – but, looking back, there was plenty to be proud about in the 2022/23 campaign.

Play-off defeat at Barnsley was tough to take, giving Ian Evatt and Co plenty to ponder as they look to build a squad capable of challenging the top two next time around.

But what of the players who have done the business on the field over the last nine months? We rated each player out of 10 and asked what might be in store for them in 2023/24.

For clairifcation, we have only marked those players still with the club, and who played more than five full games.

GETHIN JONES 7 - His experience and communication was a big miss for Bolton at the end of the season when he picked up an ill-timed injury. Brought the best out of Conor Bradley with his support play down the right and seems to be mastering the right-sided centre-half role.

DECLAN JOHN 5.5 – Turned things around impressively in the New Year after it appeared his Bolton career was done. Looked solid when called upon, yet struggling to surpass Randell Williams in the pecking order. We know better than to write the Welshman off, though!

MJ WILLIAMS 6 – Managed his 35th appearance of the season as a half-time substitute at Bristol Rovers, thus securing an extra year. Not been an easy season but Williams came good as a centre-back when his team really needed him.

RICARDO SANTOS 7 – Strange year for the skipper, who missed a chunk of football through illness in the New Year and then another post-Wembley through injury. Despite all that, Bolton are a better team with him in it and there are few players out there who are as reliable defending against attackers one-on-one.

GEORGE JOHNSTON 7 – Another positive step in the right direction. Johnston’s bravery and pure defensive skills are among the best in the team, and if he can improve his work in possession he could be a huge asset for the club.

KIERAN SADLIER 5.5 – Came up with some important goals before leaving for Leyton Orient on loan in January. Didn’t find his niche in the team, yet few would complain if he did. Maybe looking around for options.

JOSH SHEEHAN 6 – Played his way to a new contract offer, which was a gradual process after such a long lay-off through injury. Technically a very sound midfielder and will want to resurrect those international ambitions.

JON DADI BODVARSSON 6 – Popular among the supporters and been a credit to the club off the field too – but the experienced front man will be desperate to show he can keep himself fit and available after winning a new deal. Been a bigger miss than most realise.

DION CHARLES 7.5 – After scoring 21 club goals this season it seems strange to ask for more. Charles will know his game, and his finishing can improve, and he has the sort of attitude that always relishes a challenge.

DAN NLUNDULU 5.5 – Showed a few flashes of genuine talent which have whet the appetite, and there is a general groundswell of opinion that having him back next season would be a positive. Struggled to show it consistently, but got something about him.

JOEL DIXON 4 – Played back-up to James Trafford and will take some pride in having pushed him to such levels of consistency. Dixon has struggled to win over his doubters over the last 12 months, however, and needs a fresh start.

JACK IREDALE 6 – Even before his season-ending injury Iredale had experienced highs and lows in his first season with Bolton. Needs a good pre-season to make sure he is competing for a starting spot straight away.

AARON MORLEY 6.5 – There is more than a little stardust in those boots. Morley has shown he has the talent and now needs to show he can sustain it over longer periods of the season, driving games from midfield.

SHOLA SHORETIRE 5 – His first few appearances were a joy to behold. After that, the frustrations of League One physicality seemed to get in the way of him enjoying his football. Scored a first senior goal at Bristol Rovers before heading back to United.

EOIN TOAL 7.5 – Bolton’s find of the season. Answered the distress call before Christmas when Santos got injured and performed at a consistent level few expected. Still capable of more – and it will be interesting to see how far he can go.

JAMES TRAFFORD 9 – Wanderers’ best goalkeeper since Jussi Jaaskelainen, and one hopes he goes on to have a Premier League career as distinguished. Made the difficult things look easy and matured massively as a player in his 18 loan months from Manchester City.

KIERAN LEE 6.5 – While those persistent injuries ultimately became too much for him to command a regular first team spot, there was a luxurious and comforting quality about his midfield play that only comes with the best.

CONOR BRADLEY 9 – Like Trafford, will be tough to replace next season. Bought into Bolton’s spirit from his first game, expended every ounce of energy into making them a play-off team, and will leave in the highest regard.

KYLE DEMPSEY 7 – Having experienced problems with form and injury in his first 12 months, Dempsey really came good on the pitch and has become an integral member of the side. That he did so with legal matters hanging over his head was quite something, and a chapter he will be eager to move on from.

ELIAS KACHUNGA 6 – Whatever work-rate and tactical acumen he brought to the team, the former Huddersfield Town man always seemed to be battling against his lack of goals for acceptance within the fanbase. Well respected within the group and a cracking guy off it, he leaves with well-wishes.

GEORGE THOMASON 6 – Had a spell where, in his own manager’s words, he was “un-droppable” and others where he struggled for form. Has progressed physically and now needs to find the consistency of performance before he can command a regular spot in the side.

RANDELL WILLIAMS 6 – Finished the season strongly, which bodes well for the future. The hope within the Bolton camp is that with a full summer behind him, Williams can balance out a team which has been a little lop-sided.

LUKE MBETE 4.5 – After a bright beginning, some of the more direct and physical elements of this division started to make the Manchester City loanee look less comfortable. An injury brought about an early end to his season and he was unable to correct his course.

VICTOR ADEBOYEJO 6 – Having scored plenty of goals for Burton in the first half of the season, Adeboyejo has had to find his feet as part of a multi-faceted Bolton attack. There have been positive signs that he will get there, too.

CAMERON JEROME 4.5 – Whilst his influence off the field is harder to measure, Jerome has not yet managed to show on the pitch that he was the right man to bring in during January. Has the pedigree, now has to prove it in the next 12 months.

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