IAIN Brunskill is determined to help put the Bolton back in Wanderers.

Bridging the gap between first team and Academy levels has proved a difficult job in recent years, with the development squad often looking like a gathering point for contracted players not good enough to make the grade before they drift off into the ether.

But with big changes afoot at the club’s academy, which is stepping down from Category One status, and a much bigger emphasis on making finances stretch, there is a renewed focus on life outside the senior ranks.

Concern still lingers about what effects downgrading to a Category Two academy will have on the quality of coaching received by youngsters coming through the club’s system, despite assurances to the contrary.

Oddly, though, it comes at a time when the conveyor belt of talent is working better than it has in years. After Neil Lennon broke down the barriers which had been created under Dougie Freedman’s time in charge, the emergence of Zach Clough, Josh Vela, Oscar Threlkeld, Tom Walker and Andy Kellett has whet Whites fans’ appetite for more local lads to get a push.

And supporters may find some solace in the fact the man responsible for giving young players the final nudge towards Lennon wholeheartedly agrees with them.

“We’re Bolton Wanderers, we’ve got a certain history and we’re a Lancashire club – we’ve got to get back to that,” the former Liverpool assistant academy director told The Bolton News.

“I’m not sure what went on previously because I haven’t been here that long but I think we need to embrace what we are.

“I want younger players working hard and knowing what this club means to people in the area.

“We’re not a Premier League club anymore; hopefully that will change in the future but without it, you have to look at things differently.

“You’re not able to recruit from as far afield at youth level but maybe, for us, that wasn’t the best way of going about it anyway?

“The set up and structure of development and youth football has changed quite a lot this last few years, hence why we want to go about things our own way.

“Obviously we want to stick within the rules the Premier League sets down but we need to tailor it to our own locality.

“But it’s about us understanding who we are. It’s difficult attracting players at the younger age because there is so much competition in the area, and even when you do, there is a temptation that the bigger clubs come along.

“But we’ve taken the view that we’re going to work with what we’ve got, under a Bolton identity. People like Zach Clough and Tom Walker are our selling point. The manager wants to play them.

“With that, you’ve got to get the balance right. In my opinion, the two best players in the first team last season were Zach and Emile Heskey – you couldn’t get two players at polar opposite of their career. But the younger ones know if they get to the right level, they will get a chance.”

Brunskill came to the club in November last year after spending 10 years at Liverpool, followed by spells at the FA, Blackburn Rovers and in Malta.

He has joined Lennon and his coaching staff in Austria this week, leaving Andy Hughes in charge of the squad of development and under-18s players who are currently training near Newcastle.

And he hopes by knowing what Lennon wants from his first team, he can help players make a more seamless transition.

“We’ve got to promote a bit quicker, push them on as best we can rather than have a group that might stagnate over time,” he said.

“Our development squad is more like a reserve team; that’s the way we want to look at it.

“It’s like a shadow squad. If someone is injured in the first team, there is someone who can step right in.

“That enables the manager to have a tighter first-team squad, knowing the group underneath are ready to step straight in.

“We’re lucky in the slant the manager takes because he wants to give young players a chance. I think we might have had five debuts last year, which is fantastic.

“We might not do that this year – but it’s certainly the level we’d like to get to.

“Not commenting on what’s gone before but we need to raise the level of everything.”