DEAN Holden might call on a special advisor as he plots his former club’s downfall at the Banks’s Stadium tomorrow.

The former Wanderers defender, now on John Whitney’s coaching staff at Walsall, regularly taps up old mentor Sam Allardyce for managerial tips.

And with a favour already to ask of the England boss, Holden might seek some last-minute guidance as he comes up against a Bolton team in opposition for the first time in his career.

“When I was in charge at Oldham I phoned him up an hour before kick-off for a bit of information on a player,” he told The Bolton News. “He’s always available, there’s no small talk - he just gives an answer.

“I’m taking my Pro Licence at the moment and have to do some coaching at a foreign club. I’ve been in contact with him about getting in touch with Fernando Hierro at Real Oviedo.

“I’m in the process of doing intense Spanish lessons as well, so if all goes well I should be able to chat with him when I get there!”

Holden was in Allardyce’s Bolton team at the turn of the millennium when they last went seven unbeaten from the start of a season, although his involvement was cut cruelly short by a broken leg sustained against Sheffield United.

The young right-back - who at that point was being tacked by Everton – did recover to play again for Wanderers but nearly 12 months on the sidelines meant he racked up just 25 games before leaving for Oldham the following year.

Nevertheless he has retained a close affiliation with the club and still keeps in touch with some of the longer-serving members of staff.

“I think you always have a special bond with the club that gave you the first chance,” he said. “Playing under Sam was an honour. I still remember him pulling me aside when I had one year left on my contract and the team was going into the Premier League and saying ‘I don’t think you are going to play much.’ At that point I decided to go to Oldham.

“In effect, he got rid of me! But I still have so much respect for him and I’m delighted he got the England job. He was exactly the right pick.

“I still bring my kids to watch Bolton games and one of my cousins is now a massive Wanderers fan, so I’m keeping it in the family.”

Holden returned to the Saddlers in March after a brief spell in charge at Oldham, helping them reach the play-offs against the odds last season.

That form attracted offers for a number of key players and a much-changed squad has yet to bed itself down this time around.

“It’s a fantastic club,” Holden said. “The chairman, Jeff Bonser, has been here for a long time and there’s a great family atmosphere around the place.

“Nobody had really expected us to do as well as we did last year and as a result we lost a lot of the squad to bigger and better contracts elsewhere.

“It means a lot of young players are bedding themselves down quickly. When I was cutting my teeth I was doing it in the reserves at Leigh RMI for Bolton – these lads are doing it in League One against men.

“Some of them have still got some bad habits from the reserve level but I’ve experienced a lot of things in my career and my life, so I’m confident in my ability to guide them when they need me.”

Holden estimates he lost five years of his career to injury but still racked up 400-plus games for several clubs in England and Scotland. And he says that sometimes-nomadic experience has stood him in good stead since moving into coaching.

“It’s amazing how much you pick up,” he said. “If I had stayed with one club I don’t think I would have been the same person.

“Players know that when I speak to them that I’m not reciting from some manual somewhere, it is information based on what I have been through.

“When I was at Bolton, coaches like Phil Brown or Neil McDonald would tell you things and you’d listen because you knew they’d been there, done it.

“That is the kind of coach I want to be. I’ve watched and listened throughout my career and spent a lot of time not actually playing games but studying all the other aspects.”