KEVIN McNaughton arrived back at Wanderers this summer with strict instructions from his wife to “cheer up!”

The Scottish defender was down in the dumps after losing his place at Cardiff City but with a nudge from his better half, he found himself starting a second loan spell with Bolton this summer, where his mood instantly improved.

It is very much a case of déjà vu for the full-back, who was in an identical situation when he embarked on his first loan last October.

“Back again... You can’t get rid of me,” he said with a smirk on his face.

“It is strange how things happen. I’m in the same frame of mind as last time, in fact I’ll say the same thing as I did then – I just want to play football.

“I really enjoyed it here last season. I know what the set-up is about, I know what the manager wants, so it should be easy enough for me to settle.

“I need that run of games again, at my age that’s all that’s important. I was getting to the stage where I was mumping and moaning at home again, I hate not being involved, so my wife told me I had to get back out and playing. I was under strict instruction, so I jumped at the chance to come back.”

McNaughton spent three months at Wanderers last term, helping to steady a back four that had looked alarmingly vulnerable in the opening 10 games.

He returned to South Wales at Christmas time expecting to negotiate a permanent return. But by the 30-year-old’s own admission, the sequence of events in the new year offered him an opportunity he could hardly have expected.

“When I went back last year I was sat outside Malky Mackay’s door waiting to ask if I could come back to Bolton,” he told The Bolton News.

“He was in a board meeting and I got told to head back home. By the time I got there, Sky Sports News were telling me he’d been sacked.

“I went into training expecting to say the same thing to the next manager (Ole Gunnar Solskjaer) and then all of a sudden I’m starting the game against Arsenal.”

McNaughton suddenly found himself a first-team regular again, pushing him close towards 300 appearances for the Bluebirds.

Just when it all appeared to be going smoothly, however, Cardiff’s struggles at the foot of the Premier League forced Solskjaer into a few changes – leaving McNaughton out of the frame again.

“I got a run of games and then a year’s contract, so it was going well,” he explained. “I was involved again and my family were settled – I thought it was a chance for me but not long after that they signed Fabio and wanted to push a couple of the younger lads, so it was clear it wasn’t going to work out.

“I spoke to the manager and it was the same situation as the end of last season where he’s got too many players in the one position. He said if I wanted to go and get football, he was fine with it, so I jumped at the chance to come back here.”

The last time Cardiff were in the Championship, McNaughton was hoisted on fans’ shoulders as he left the pitch as the club celebrated a return to top-flight football for the first time in 51 years.

This time, Wanderers will be pitting themselves against the club he has served loyally for the last eight years.

“That will be strange but there’s nothing I can do about it,” he said. “I’d like both clubs to do well, of course.

“I’ve played near enough 300 games in this league now and I know what it’s all about. Hopefully I can bring that experience and use it.”