THEY say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks – but that cliché never applied to ex-Wanderers warrior Ian Marshall.

The archetypal sometime striker, sometime defender pitched up at the age of 34 to help Sam Allardyce’s patchwork side back to the big time at the turn of the millennium.

Keeping track of his team-mates’ names wasn’t always easy as 35 other players came and went in the dressing room, and Marshall also developed some unique short cuts to help cope with the demands of training.

But he went on to play a big part in an unfashionable team that gatecrashed the Premier League party with a play-off final win over Preston North End and then stuck around for more than a decade.

Fifteen years on and Wanderers are in a similar situation to the one Marshall stepped into in July 2000.

Neil Lennon is looking at a complete overhaul at the Macron Stadium this summer and has called upon some veteran lieutenants in Eidur Gudjohnsen and Emile Heskey this season in an attempt to stave off relegation, using 43 players in all.

While his first five months have been a case of patch up and make do, Marshall is backing his former Leicester City team-mate to succeed in the long term.

“It looks like he’ll be doing a clear-out at the end of the season, and that some of the lads are playing for their contracts,” Marshall told The Bolton News.

“But Lenny is very focussed on doing a job for Bolton and he’ll have a plan for where he wants to take them.

“He was always that way in his playing days at Leicester. Martin O’Neill had Steve Walsh and Matt Elliott, who were the leaders of men, but Lenny knew every aspect of the game tactically, and knew how to deal with people individually too.

“You can never really tell what football holds; you’ll do well and move on, or you’ll do badly and get moved on, but I think Lenny will do a very good job once he puts his own stamp on things.”

When Marshall turned up at Bolton cash was tight but Allardyce managed to assemble an eclectic squad worth much more than the sum of its parts.

“I had a chance to go to QPR and then had a look at San Jose Earthquakes in America but it wasn’t for me,” Marshall recalled. “I wouldn’t say I was on the scrapheap but I was a bit worried about my next step.

“Then out of the blue Big Sam called me and said would I come down. I was 34, not the greatest trainer in the world, but the physios worked me hard and I got in decent shape.

“I got on with the lads and he offered me a year. I jumped at it.

“A lot of lads came and went that year. But through the middle of the team you had a lot of quality.

“You had lads like me and Dean Holdsworth – kept things light, got a bit of spirit in the place, and captain fantastic Gudni Bergsson. He had that Icelandic way about him, dead straight, but really funny.

“You had real quality in Per Frandsen, who was a great player, but the lad who set it all off was Michael Ricketts – he had a wonderful season.”

The case study of Ricketts was, and remains, a cautionary tale for young professional footballers thrust into the limelight. But Marshall remains sympathetic to his former team-mate.

“You only have to look at Harry Kane right now – a young lad who’s scored loads of goals. That was exactly the situation Michael was in,” he said.

“I played alongside Emile Heskey at Leicester and I thought he was heading in the same direction – right to the top.

“It might have been attitude, I don’t know, but you never know quite what effect the money and the attention will have on you. Some can’t handle it.”

Heskey is still mixing it in the Championship with Wanderers at the age of 37 and Marshall believes only his ex-Foxes team-mate will know when to hang up his boots.

“You are a long time finished in this game,” he said. “And that’s why I have the utmost respect for Emile.

“It’s like David Beckham – a very wealthy young man who plays football because he loves it, not because he needs to.

“If you could bottle that attitude and give it to some of the younger players, we’d have no problems in this country.

“Only Emile will know when it’s time to finish.”

Marshall played on for a year with Blackpool after leaving Wanderers, calling time on his career after a 4-1 win over Cambridge United in the LDV Vans Trophy final.

These days he is passing on his knowledge, recently setting up a football academy for boys and girls aged 16-18 down in Ipswich.

“A couple of ex-teammates of mine from Leicester , Steve Walsh and Muzzy Izzet, do one in Leicester and Steve Claridge looks after one in Portsmouth.

“I went to see what they were about and I was very impressed, so I agreed to set one up in Ipswich.

“We’re not looking to spot the next Lionel Messi, although that would be very nice, this is more about them enjoying football, getting the same sort of experiences as I did when I was an apprentice, and also having access to the educational side too.

“At the end of it they will come out with a qualification, a stepping stone to higher education if they want it, and an insight into what it’s like to train and work as a young footballer.”

There is one trick Marshall might not pass on to his students, however, from his days under Allardyce.

“Sam was brilliant with me,” he said. “I lived in Leicester and it was a couple of hours into Bolton so he’d let me train at home an extra day here or there.

“He was one of the first people in football to really utilise all the medical equipment and one day his physio issued us with a heart monitor.

“He let me take it home then bring in the results later in the week.

“But as you’ll know, I wasn’t dead keen on running. And I had this old dog, called Tess.

“She was about 15 and I worked it out in human terms and reckoned she could handle a run about in the park. It turns out the heart monitor fitted her perfectly.

“When I took the monitor back Sam got me in his office and said the results were a bit off. I told him it must be broke.

“We went on like this for two weeks. Tess had never been so fit.

“But they caught me in the end. Thankfully Sam saw the funny side but he wouldn’t let me have any more days off.

“You’d never manage that these days – they could probably tell you what type of dog was doing the running for you.”

To find out more about Marshall’s academy follow @IMFootball_UK or email