DARREN Pratley reckons Wanderers had no choice but to drop Rob Holding on Saturday amid mounting interest from Arsenal and Everton.

The academy graduate looks set to leave the club this summer with Premier League Bournemouth and now Scottish giants Celtic also tracking his progress.

Wanderers took up a 12-month option on Holding’s contract only last week but now face the task of getting the best price possible for the 20-year-old.

Jimmy Phillips confirmed yesterday he was instructed by the Whites’ ownership to remove Holding from his first team plans at Fulham, and club captain Pratley can understand the decision.

“Rob has had a good season so for him on a personal level – it’s a Premier League club, I believe – you can’t really turn that down,” he told The Bolton News. “He has to further his career.

“I think he was on the coach on the way down and got told he wasn’t playing once he got to the hotel, so it was a bit of a shock.

“One of the younger lads had to drive his own car down at 3.30pm on a Friday to get to a game – just another thing happening at Bolton Wanderers.

“Rob wanted to play but I don’t think they could risk him getting injured with the money which has been bandied about.”

Pratley praised more than 1,200 supporters who made the lunchtime trip to Craven Cottage to see Wanderers beaten for the 26th time in the Championship this season.

“Fans have been terrific, especially there for a 12.30pm kick-off, coming down to London, which isn’t cheap,” he said.

“The way they were cheering on the boys or making their own entertainment was good. They have been like that all season and in the situation we’ve been in it could have got a lot worse than it has from the fans.

“Everyone thanks them for that and hopefully next season we can give them something back to reward their support.”

The skipper – who was linked with a move to Wigan Athletic in this morning’s tabloids – has two years remaining on his contract and will be a Wanderers player “until told otherwise.”

But the experienced midfielder hopes the club can sort out several remaining issues before the start of next season.

“We need a manager, that would be a good start,” he added.

“We need a structure in place. What are Bolton going to be, because good Bolton teams have been hard to beat, get in people’s faces.

“We need an identity, what are we going to be? Rather than off the cuff.

“And we need players, good ones, because it is going to be a long, hard season.”