WITH finances sure to be tight this summer, Owen Coyle would love nothing more than to have an exciting crop of home-grown youngsters pushing for places next season.

There has been a dearth of talent coming through at the Reebok, with Chris Basham the only player to come off the Wanderers’ production line in recent years.

The club has invested heavily in the academy, including the new £3 million facility at Lostock, and will now be looking for the next generation to make the step up.

And John Henry, the reserve team manager, believes there are some encouraging signs despite a disappointing campaign in which Bolton finished bottom of the Premier Reserve League North table for a third successive year.

There was some good news, however, with the youngsters reaching the Manchester Senior Cup final, which they lost to neighbours Manchester City at the Reebok last Thursday. Despite the mixed success, Henry, who took over from Alan Cork in January, has been pleased with the progress his side has made this term.

“I’m reasonably happy,” said the Scot. “I know we finished bottom but that doesn’t tell the whole story. We had a poor start but, since I came in, the players have applied themselves really well and I can’t fault their effort or commitment.

“It’s a fairly young side. Three of the back four are all under-18s and we’ve had Jack Sampson and Liam Irwin (son of former Manchester United defender, Denis) who are both under-17s, playing recently.

“We’ve tried to make them a little bit more organised and they deserve a lot of credit.

“With a bit more experience, I’m sure we would have finished much higher. I’ve been happy with the progress some are making and some look comfortable playing at this level. They’ve also got a great team spirit.

“You’ve got to remember we’re playing against the likes of Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool and all the young talent they have.

“They all spend a bit of money and have brought in players from around the world. It’s a great challenge for them.

“We threw away a few games where we couldn’t see it out. That was just naivety and will come with experience. But it’s important to look at the bigger picture; developing them as players and giving them the self belief.”

Six of the best to keep an eye on

Aaron Mooy Midfield, age 19 Birthplace: Sydney.

Henry’s verdict: Has great ability and is our main creative player. Missed the end of the season with a back problem. Great technically with all the talent in the world A quiet lad and very laid back but he must improve his work ethic.

Michael O'Halloran Forward, age 19 Birthplace: Glasgow.

Henry’s verdict: Michael’s very quick and causes opponents problems getting in behind them. He finished the season strongly. He can play wide but is more of a threat through the middle. Can finish but needs a bit more composure in front of goal.

Rhys Bennett Centre back, age 18 Birthplace: Bolton Henry’s verdict: The captain and another who finished the season well. Has a good presence and we’re trying to get him to talk more. He is more aggressive now and reads the game well. Quick and getting better on the ball. Over-plays a bit will improve.

Adam Blakeman Left back, age 18 Birthplace: Burscough.

Henry’s verdict: Adam’s a real talent and a really good footballer. Decent defender and uses the ball well. He has a fantastic left foot, sees a pass and is a great striker of the ball. He was at Liverpool as a kid and we think he can do well here.

Rob Lainton Goalkeeper, age 20 Birthplace: Hyde.

Henry’s verdict: Rob’s been terrific and has made just one mistake since I’ve been here. Rob is an infectious character and a real grafter. He’s really worked at his game and is developing into a good all-round keeper. He’s a great shot-stopper and kicks well.

Danny Ward Forward, age 18 Birthplace: Bradford.

Henry’s verdict: He scored a lot of goals in the reserves at the start of the season before joining Swindon on loan. I haven’t seen too much of him but the reports have been good and he’s done well down there. He will be looking to impress the manager in pre-season.