WANDERERS cannot afford to wait until the summer to make their move on Middlesbrough striker Lukas Jutkiewicz.
That’s the view of ex-Whites defender Simon Charlton – who has picked out the in-form target man as his player of the season so far.
Dougie Freedman takes his side to Huddersfield Town tomorrow, where Charlton reckons the in-form striker will be one of the first names on his team-sheet.
But while the Wanderers boss has played down talk of a permanent deal at the end of the season, Charlton believes his impressive form is bound to be attracting interest elsewhere.
“If the season finished tomorrow he’d be my man of the season,” admitted the former Reebok stalwart. “From his first game at Ipswich there was something about him and without even knowing the players he gave the team an added dimension.
“You would like to think that Bolton wouldn’t hang around until the summer to try to sort something with Boro, because he’s done so well, I can’t imagine for one single second that they are the only club who would bid for him in the summer.”
Jutkiewicz arrived at Wanderers having scored just one league goal all season for Middlesbrough – and having failed to really settle at any one club during his career to date.
The 24-year-old, who has scored six goals in his last 12 starts, had turned out for eight clubs either permanently or on loan – including a brief spell at Huddersfield – before landing at the Reebok in January.
“It’s funny how it happens sometimes,” Charlton said. “Your face just fits.
“Boro haven’t pulled up any trees this season even after he left but it might just be that Lukas has a manager and a set of supporters that really appreciate him.”
Up against Wanderers today will be another player who took a diverse route to Championship football in Nakhi Wells.
The ex-Bradford City star played in his native Bermuda and had a trial at Ajax before coming to English football with Carlisle United.
Now 23, he moved from Valley Parade to Huddersfield for a record £1million in January and has netted a combined 20 times for both clubs this term.
“There were quite a few bigger clubs after him at the time,” Charlton said. “So to plump for Huddersfield was quite an accolade.
“They don’t have a massive wage bill and when you hear some of the figures that have come out of Bolton this season, it’s enough to make you blink in disbelief.
“But they have pushed the boat out with Wells and it appears to be working because they are in a fairly safe position.”
Charlton will be sitting firmly on the fence in his position as co-commentator for BBC Radio Manchester at the John Smith’s Stadium, as his hometown club take on the one he now tracks from the press box.
The 42-year-old began his footballing career aged 16 at Huddersfield’s old Leeds Road home, playing alongside the likes of Kevin Donovan and Andy Booth under the tutelage of Scotsman Ian Ross.
He moved on to top flight football with Southampton in 1993 before signing for Sam Allardyce at the Reebok seven years later and becoming a consistent member of his early Whites squad.
What some Wanderers fans may not know, however, is that Charlton came close to linking up with Bruce Rioch soon after breaking into the team at Huddersfield as a teenager.
“The manager at the time was trying to sell me to Bolton when they were still playing at Burnden Park,” he recalled. “I’m not sure how far down the line it went – but I got there in the end.”