JIMMY Phillips revealed Wanderers’ owners asked him NOT to select defender Rob Holding for today’s 1-0 defeat at Fulham.

Arsenal are strongly tipped to land the highly-rated 20-year-old ahead of his other Premier League suitors Everton and Bournemouth.

And the club decided they could not risk him picking up and injury to scupper the deal, leaving Phillips to change his plans less than 24 hours before the game.

“I was asked by the board of directors not to play him yesterday,” he told The Bolton News. “He was in the line-up on Friday morning but that’s as much as I know.

“It would appear some clubs are interested in him somewhere down the line. I think the wheels are still in motion on that one and it’ll be a few days before we get an outcome.”

Holding is Wanderers’ player of the season and was making plans for life in League One with the club he has represented since the age of eight.

We have learned a bid was recieved on Friday, with all indications pointing to it being made by Arsenal and not Everton, although the fee involved is not yet known.

Phillips reckons if cash made on the defender’s sale is reinvested in the squad it will ease the pain of losing one of the club’s brightest talents.

“If the deal goes ahead and the money is used to improve the squad as a whole then we can judge then whether it was a positive outcome,” he said.

Wanderers lost a record 26th game of the season at Craven Cottage, and end the season without a single win away from home for only the third time in their history.

Tom Cairney scored the winner in the 77th minute, curling home a delightful shot after Ben Amos had parried a header from Matt Smith.

The Whites held out stubbornly to that point but created few chances and did not put a single shot on target.

Fulham hit the woodwork twice and fully deserved three points which lifted them above Rotherham into 20th place in the Championship.