IF Chris Basham is handed a chance against Liverpool today it will be the latest stage of an incredible journey which has taken him from Newcastle to Bolton – via McDonald’s.

The young defender was released by the Magpies and spent two years in the footballing wilderness, including a spell serving hamburgers, before being snapped up by Wanderers three years ago.

Basham has been on the substitutes’ bench for the last two games – and came within seconds of making his debut against Manchester City.

The centre-half was stripped off and ready to make his Premier League bow in the 2-0 victory when the referee blew the final whistle. And, although he was understandably disappointed not to get on, the 20-year-old is just delighted to be part of Gary Megson’s plans.

“The manager turned round and asked me to go on and I was just about to go on when the referee blew his whistle,” said Basham.

“The experience has been great for me and with us winning games it just makes it even better.

“I was at Newcastle for seven years and then got released and had two years out of football and was working at McDonald’s, so just to be involved was fantastic.

“Gary Megson is always chatting to me. He’s a good manager and great with the younger lads.

“It’s another step for me to be on the bench and, with the injuries Bolton have got at the minute, it’s nice to be given my chance and hopefully I can stay in there.”

With Joey O’Brien only just back in training after an injury lay-off and Nicky Hunt being allowed to join Birmingham on loan, Megson is short of defensive cover and could name Basham on the bench again for today’s visit of Liverpool.

After spending part of last season on loan at League Two club Rochdale, where he made 13 appearances, the versatile youngster is hoping to make his mark at the Reebok as a central defender. And he believes there is no better duo to learn from than the current centre-back pairing of Gary Cahill and Andy O’Brien.

“It’s great training with quality players,” said Basham, whose present contract expires at the end of this season. “All the defenders work together as a group so it’s great for me. Gary Cahill is one of the best young players I’ve seen and Andy O’Brien, who is older, is excellent as well.

“When I was at Rochdale I played right-wing and centre-midfield but my favourite position is centre-half. I’ve played there all season and I don’t want it to change because I’m enjoying my football.

“I play a bit like Gary Cahill. I’m aggressive but I also like the ball and to pass it, though he’s better in the air and stronger. But I’m only 20 and that can still come for me because I’m still learning.

“I signed a two-year professional contract and that ends this year, so hopefully I’ll get a new one.”