DOUGIE Freedman says decisions have now been made on how the Wanderers squad will evolve next season.
With six players out of contract in the summer and a handful of transfer targets already identified by the Whites boss, the team that will turn out when it all starts again in August is already starting to take shape.
Within the course of this season Freedman’s line-up has changed considerably – with only four of the players who took to the pitch at Burnley on the opening day turning out against Sheffield Wednesday last weekend.
Speaking on BBC’s Late Kick-Off, the Scot confirmed he wants to retain the core of his squad for next term.
“There will be a transition, of course, and that happens naturally,” he said.
“We’ve privately made some decisions on what we’re doing financially and certain players will be affected by that.
“But we are going to keep the nucleus of the squad that I believe is at the right mentality to take the club forward.
“I don’t want players here because it benefits them financially or it benefits them to stay around the area.
“I want players who come in here that want to get better as people and players, working hard on the training ground.
“Is the team getting more like my own? Of course, over time a manager is going to try and get his own personnel or those who fit his own personality and that has been happening over the last three or four months.”
Freedman faces financial constraints with Premier League parachute payments now halved and Financial Fair Play continuing to squeeze the amount of debt owner Eddie Davies can absorb.
Costs have been cut in the last 12 months but big-earners such as Chris Eagles, Tyrone Mears, Andre Moritz and Zat Knight are likely to leave this summer or be offered reduced deals to help further reduce the wage bill.
“I have got to have one eye on the financial balance sheet – we’re trying to run a business here,” Freedman said. “But I have got to have another eye on the playing squad and making sure that we’re competitive next season.
“We are going to try and balance the books but also make sure that the type of player we bring in is a younger type who has the potential to get into the training ground and get better.
“That’s where my first love is, coaching, and that’s how I learned my trade at Crystal Palace, getting in younger players and that’s what we’re closer to getting here.
“You look at the squad these days, it is a lot younger, and that comes with financial benefits as well.”
Freedman accepts both he and the team have deserved the criticism that has been aimed at them at times this season – particularly as the club made their worst start to a league campaign for more than a century.
But the manager has asked fans to stick with the club, hinting that the worst could be over.
“Bolton fans pay good money to watch their team,” he said.
“They are entitled to an opinion and I’ve got no problem with that at all. "There have been certain days where I have been disappointed myself.
“But I think you have to look at the big picture, where we are and what we’ve had in the last 10 years. We had fantastic success.
“I’m not the kind of coach who is going to come in and blow my budget. "It has happened too often that clubs put themselves in jeopardy with new owners or losing points because of administration.
“I’ve tried to be honest and upfront with fans and told them it’s going to be a difficult period but we’re going to pull through it. “I think the football we’ve been playing and the fact we have got a few youngsters coming into the team, it’s very positive going forward.
“Everyone wants to win every game and I’m no different. But we have to be realistic in where we are going and have a plan as to where we are going.”