END OF SEASON REVIEW: Marc Iles picks out his top three players for Bolton Wanderers this season
My player of the season...
HE had always impressed playing for Leicester, Reading and Doncaster but in his first few months at Wanderers, I feared that we had signed a different player.
It just hadn’t clicked for the big defender and his injury problems in that first season at the Reebok just seemed to have accelerated the speed at which he was heading for the exit.
But if ever a player managed to turn round his Bolton career in my time covering the club, it has been Mills.
According to reports from the training ground, Mills put in some serious hard yards to get himself fit, and back in favour.
And once given that opportunity, he didn’t look back. There have been some less-than-memorable days, visits to former clubs Leicester and Reading included, but on the whole he has been as consistent a presence in the back four as there has been all season.
Mills has fought off competition from Zat Knight and David Wheater to become the main man at the back, and that’s why I think he shades my player-of-the-year award from the versatile Tim Ream.
In second place...
TIM REAM After stepping into the boots vacated by Gary Cahill, it hasn’t been an easy ride for the American defender since he quit New York for Bolton a couple of years ago.
For most of last season and much of the summer, I feared that Ream would become another Owen Coyle signing who just didn’t work out.
But I’m happy to have been proved entirely wrong on that front. Ream forged a solid partnership with Matt Mills before filling in as an emergency left-back – a move that threatened to derail that early progress.
But once again Ream stayed strong, overcame the awkwardness, and it is to his immense credit that he no longer looks out of position.
That versatility could come in very handy for the US in the World Cup this summer – and I can’t think of anyone in the Wanderers squad who deserves a shot at Brazil more.
And third is...
NEIL DANNS Danns told me 24 hours after arriving at Bolton that he would be giving his all, and if that wasn’t enough to earn him a move from Leicester then so be it.
From the moment his header earned three points at Birmingham, you could tell he was going to make good on his promise. More important goals followed, including a beauty at Barnsley, but it is always the work-rate that shines through.
I’m pleased he has earned a 12-month contract next season. In terms of effort levels on the pitch, few come close to the Liverpudlian. And he can play a mean guitar too.