Bolton Wanderers prospect Josh Vela set for first-team action... but where?
BOYHOOD Manchester United fan Josh Vela fired out a red alert to Dougie Freedman in midweek – and may have landed himself a spell on loan.
Wanderers are giving serious consideration to sending the in-form midfielder out for senior experience, with League One strugglers Notts County understood to be heading the queue.
Vela was in commanding form in midweek for the development squad as they beat Lancashire Senior Cup holders Manchester United on penalties.
The academy graduate has been knocking on the first team door for several weeks now and was on the bench for Saturday’s 2-0 defeat against Brighton.
Speaking to The Bolton News, Whites boss Freedman admitted he faced a difficult decision on the youngster’s immediate future.
“He’s playing very, very well,” he said. “It is a very fine line between sending him out to get games and keeping him here because he is extremely close to making that breakthrough.
“If we came to the decision, with Josh, that going out on loan was the thing to do, then it would be in the short term only.”
Vela, who has been with Wanderers’ Academy since the age of seven, has been restricted to just two cup appearances this season after long-term injuries appeared to take their toll on his fitness.
But Freedman noted a fortnight ago that the 20-year-old had been making big strides and was now starting to look like the player who had been chased by Liverpool before his breakthrough at Bolton.
“When I came through the door everyone told me how wonderful he was but to play at the level I expect, he was nowhere near it,” he said. “He was complaining about his knee quite a lot but he’s changed his lifestyle, and we’ve had some very frank meetings about what he’s got to do on that front.
“He changed his intensity in training and now we’re starting to see a young player who you guys knew about but I didn’t see when I came here.”
Vela helped heap further misery on United after their weekend defeat to Liverpool, scoring in a 5-4 penalty shootout win to book a semi-final place against Wigan Athletic.
Defender Oscar Threlkeld also capped a good week in which he appeared on the bench for the seniors by netting the decisive penalty in the shootout.
Wanderers have had the Indian sign over their local rivals in recent meetings outside the senior set-up – with David Lee’s Under-18s also beating the Reds a couple of weeks ago.
The two sides meet again at Carrington this weekend.
Kevin Davies’s son Lucas also followed in his dad’s footsteps by scoring in the Under-10s’ 8-5 win against the junior Reds earlier this month.