ANDY Lonergan has been told he will start the season as first choice for Wanderers.

With speculation growing over the future of Adam Bogdan, Dougie Freedman has confirmed the Hungarian keeper will not be fit to start the Championship opener against Watford in eight days’ time.

The Whites boss agreed that Lonergan was in “inspired” form after the pre-season victory over Port Vale on Wednesday night and has now challenged the former Leeds United man to keep hold of the gloves.

“Andy has stepped right up to the plate and he will start the season for us,” Freedman confirmed to The Bolton News.

“Hopefully he can keep that form and keep that jersey. He has always been in there – and it’s been difficult at this club because I have always had two top goalkeepers.

“I’ve never really had what I consider a number one keeper and a number two keeper, they have both been fighting it out.

“Like any player, whoever is in top form will play, and I have tried to give both of them ample opportunity.”

Bogdan had been scheduled to feature at Vale Park in midweek and news of his non-appearance fuelled yet more rumour that he is set to depart during this transfer window.

German club FSV Mainz and Championship rivals Fulham have been strongly linked with the 26-year-old, who like Lonergan has just 12 months remaining on his contract.

But Freedman stuck to his guns when asked to explain Bogdan’s absence, insisting it was simply a medical matter rather than any reflection on his contractual situation.

“Adam has got a back problem that came about at the end of last season and it healed perfectly well,” the manager explained.

“He was supposed to play against Port Vale but he’s a perfectionist and on Friday he did too much in training. He pushed himself too hard and set himself back a little bit.

“He is training away but as his back is a little bit sore we didn’t feel it was a good idea to play him and risk him.

“But the situation will clear itself up.”

Meanwhile, reports suggest defender Cian Bolger could return to Southend United on loan for the first half of this season.

Former Wanderers assistant Phil Brown took the 22-year-old Irishman to Roots Hall for a short spell at the end of last season but had to send him back after just 80 minutes of football after he injured his ankle.