IF any issue continues to polarise the Wanderers fans, it is Adam Le Fondre’s continued first team exile.

Signed permanently in the summer amid scenes of celebration, one of last season’s promotion heroes has failed to put a dent in the Championship since committing his future to the Macron Stadium.

Le Fondre started the first two games of the season against Leeds United and Millwall but has since been reduced to cameos from the bench.

Getting regular football has been a perpetual problem for the former Reading hitman since he left the Madjeski Stadium in 2014.

After a move to Cardiff City went sour he went on loan to Wanderers in 2015 and finished as the club’s top scorer under Neil Lennon. Since then success has been thin on the ground at Championship level.

Le Fondre helped Wanderers to promotion in League One last season but spells at Wigan Athletic and Wolves, plus a tough start to the current campaign at the Macron mean he now has just 15 starts, 36 sub appearances and five goals to show for the last three seasons in the second tier.

His involvement on Saturday is also in doubt after limping out of the warm-up at Sunderland with a calf strain.

Steve Parkin, the Wanderers assistant manager, has known Le Fondre most of his professional career and says it is imperative the 30-year-old continues to keep himself sharp and stay professional, regardless of the reasons for his absence from the team.

“It has happened to him throughout his career but my assessment of Alfie is that he can’t feel he isn’t going to get into the team,” he told The Bolton News. “He has got to do everything he can to avoid that.

“We had a look at him up top on his own in the development squad the other Monday night, where Gary Madine has been playing and he did really well. That might be an option in the future, I don’t know.

“Of course he will be disappointed he’s not playing but he has been a good pro, which we fully expected. He has always been like that.

“From a coaching point of view, when he gets his chance from the bench we expect him to take it.”

Le Fondre is by no means alone in biding his time. The likes of Derik Osede, Reece Burke, Josh Cullen, Dorian Dervite and Stephen Darby have also spent their fair share of the season thus far waiting in the wings.

But Parkin has been impressed by the attitude shown by the players outside what has become a settled line-up and with changes possible after two long trips in succession, their patience could yet be rewarded against Norwich tomorrow afternoon.

“The key thing for the players who are not in is to come off the bench and do something which makes us think ‘okay, maybe we need this lad in there next week’ and force the change,” said the assistant boss.

“For their own self-preservation and fitness they need to be right on it. You know and I know how quickly things can change, you can lose players to suspension and injury at the drop of a hat and then before you know it you are not just calling on one of those players, you are calling on three or four.

“I must say all the lads who have been out of the team have been first class. We do expect them to be disappointed, we expect them not to be happy away from the place. But we expect them to knuckle down and train as hard as they can to get back in the team and also be ready when called upon.

“Since the international break they have been spot on and the training has had an intensity where you are not having to break it up and tell people to calm down.”

Keeping players motivated is a challenge every manager faces, not least in a small squad with few hiding places like the one at Wanderers.

Parkin believes Parkinson’s calm character helps him stay on top of any dressing room problems.

“To be fair to Phil he is excellent with the lads,” he said. “He isn’t one of those managers who walks into the dressing room pins a team-sheet on the wall and just says ‘unlucky’.

“His diligence with players is great and the key thing for him is that he likes to explain to each person why they are not playing.

“That’s good of him. I never used to do it – maybe that’s why I’m not a manager any more!”