Dougie Freedman searches to strengthen Bolton Wanderers' defence
DOUGIE Freedman will step up his search for new talent this weekend – starting at the back.
The Whites boss is understood to be in the market to bring in a new centre-half on loan before next weekend’s home clash with Leeds United.
But it appears he may first have to find a destination for one of the four centre-halves on his books at present, putting a question mark over the immediate future of David Wheater, Zat Knight, Tim Ream and Matt Mills.
Wanderers would have listened to offers for any of the quartet before the close of the transfer window but, despite some fringe interest, no bids materialised.
The emergency loan window re-opens today and though the Scot will not rush into making unnecessary signings, he intends to add some defensive steel that has been lacking so far this season, if he can.
Middlesbrough remain interested in taking Wheater back to the Riverside Stadium and were poised to make a move on deadline day if Wigan Athletic had produced a reasonable offer for Australian Rhys Williams.
Chairman Steve Gibson is a fan of Redcar-born Wheater, who only recently penned a new three-year deal with the Whites, and sources close to Boro suggest manager Tony Mowbray still wants another defender.
Both Ream and Mills signalled their intentions to stay and fight for their places over the summer but with opportunities still limited, they may now be more open to a move to get more games.
Zat Knight appears the least likely of the four to leave at present – although it remains to be seen what damage last week’s poor performance at Ewood Park has done to his stature as club captain.
Freedman had hoped to bring in Crystal Palace’s experienced centre-half Paddy McCarthy during the transfer window but the 30-year-old Dubliner is still working his way back from a long-term groin injury that saw him miss all of last season.
A late move for another of his trusted former charges, Peter Ramage, also ended in failure, with the ex-Newcastle United man joining Burnley on a season-long loan.
Wanderers fans are in agreement with the manager about where reinforcements are needed, with 57 per cent of voters on an online poll run by The Bolton News picking out the defence as the area that most needed strengthening.
Attack (24pc), goalkeeper (11pc) and midfield (eight per cent) completed the voting.