WANDERERS strike legend Andy Walker would love to see Scotland international Alan Hutton stay on at the Reebok next season.
With little prospect of rebuilding his career at Aston Villa, where he has 12 months to run on his current deal, experienced full-back Hutton is likely to be on the lookout for another club this summer.
Walker hopes that having got used to regular club football again at Bolton, the 30-year-old defender can find a way to remain with the Whites – which he believes would have an added benefit for the national team.
And the Burnden Park hero, who scored 55 goals in 78 starts for the Whites between 1991 and 1994, suggests a full season with the club could also be a successful one for both parties.
“I’d urge Alan to get out there and play,” Walker told The Bolton News. “If he can get something sorted financially with Aston Villa, then fine, but otherwise he could do a lot worse than stick around at a good club like Bolton.
“I’m sure he’ll have an affinity with Dougie Freedman, a fellow Scotland international, and I know it has been a bit of a disappointing season there.
“I don’t see any reason why, with a much better start, they can’t have realistic aspirations of the play-offs next year at the least.
“I think Dougie has shown himself capable of building a team before and while I know results have been really poor, I don’t think it’s a massive leap of faith to think they will be involved further up the table next year.”
Walker was surprised to see Hutton was left on the shelf for almost a year, with his last club football before his stint at Bolton played in La Liga with Mallorca in June 2013.
The 30-year-old defender has represented Scotland during his time in the wilderness and Walker has been impressed by the speed at which he has resumed his career with Wanderers.
“It is amazing that the most game time he has had of late has been for Scotland,” he said. “I watched him play recently against Croatia – a world class team – and there wasn’t any ring-rustiness at all.
“He did what he has done throughout his career – up and down, showing plenty of energy to get forward and defensively he was very solid too.
“I’m very surprised that no-one has taken the chance on him yet but whether that’s the big money that he’s on at Villa I don’t know.
“It’s certainly Bolton’s gain. But right now it seems Alan is not concerned with what he’s earning, he’s like every footballer, they want to play. “And he should be very grateful to be at a club like Bolton Wanderers.”
Hutton’s wage – reported to be £40,000 a week at Villa Park – has often been used as a figurative stick to beat him with down in the Midlands, where manager Paul Lambert has been instructed to cut costs.
Walker hopes the ex-Spurs star can continue to make a positive impression and convince the club to offer him another deal.
“It’s a short career and you can’t blame anyone for what they earn,” he said. “You sign contracts in good faith and I’m sure he could never have envisaged what would happen at Aston Villa in the end.
“Alan is entitled to sit out his contract or try and sort out some kind of financial arrangement. But looking at it from Scotland’s point of view, clearly Gordon Strachan would want him playing football for a club at a good level on a regular basis.
“He has had a rich career, and while a few people were surprised up in Scotland when he went to Spurs for £9million, he has played for some very good sides since.
“I think he might have lost a bit of self-esteem having sat around at Villa without playing, and not having more clubs coming in for him.
“But if he wants to drop down a level then he has to do it at a club with realistic Premier League ambitions – someone like Bolton, who were there not too long ago.”