REECE Wabara might be fashionably late – but he is working hard to get involved again in Wanderers’ promotion push.

Signed as a free agent in February after Lawrie Wilson’s season-ending hamstring injury, the former Manchester City trainee has featured just once for the Whites thus far.

Picked in the League One team of the year last season but inexplicably released by Wigan Athletic, Wabara had been due to sign for Bolton until the vagaries of the club’s transfer embargo prevented him from doing so.

His 70-minute debut against Bristol Rovers highlighted the work still required to get to top condition but, a month later, he is now knocking on the first team door once again.

Wabara was one of a handful of senior stars involved in Monday night’s 2-2 Development Squad draw against Coventry City and, speaking to the club recently, he admitted the battle towards full fitness has been tough.

“It isn’t going to be an overnight job, getting back to my ultimate peak in terms of match fitness as it has been a long time since I played regularly at first team level,” he said. “I feel good in myself, though, and I am confident that I’ll be at my optimum condition sooner rather than later. “It is very easy to say you are physically fit and even when I didn’t have a club in the second half of last year I did a lot of work to keep myself in the right condition.

“Ultimately, though, you need to be out there on the pitch playing games of football to get to the point you need to be at.

“The manager has been great with me since I came here – I was honest with him from the outset that I have not been in the mix with a club for the last nine months.

“I explained though I’m a naturally fit lad and I will never lose my ability on the football pitch, it will just be a case of working hard on and off the pitch with the help of the backroom staff to help me get back to where I was.”

Wabara, still just 25, has spent time with eight different professional clubs so far in his career, most of which were on loan from City to gain some first team exposure.

After his release at the DW Stadium he bided his time for the right offer whilst keeping busy running his successful fashion business, Maniere De Voir.

The defender insists his aim was always to get back into the game despite the disenchantment of how things ended with Latics.

“I was happy there but an extension just didn’t happen for me, which at the time was disappointing,” he said.

“This is life, though, and you just have to go with it.

“I’ll never look back, regret anything or be bitter towards anybody – this is just part and parcel of football and how life can be.

“Outside of football I’ve always been keen to plan for the future because you never know when it will end – you could get one bad injury and your career could be finished long before you expected it to be.

“With that in mind I opened my own business on the side. That’s my enjoyment outside of the game – I don’t drink and I don’t gamble – but some people have looked on it negatively, which is a shame.

“Football is, and always has been, my number on priority. It was my first love and that’s why I’m here at Bolton Wanderers.”

Wabara is keen to prove now to the Whites that he can be a part of the longer-term plans at the Macron Stadium.

“I like to think I’m a pretty level-headed guy and that’s down to what I have experienced in my career to date, on and off the pitch,” he said.

“Nothing can really faze me now – I’ll enjoy the good times but won’t let myself get carried away when there has been bad times. I always put everything into perspective to stop myself from getting too down.

“I will always have a level of gratitude no matter what happens in my life and career.

“Right now I am completely focussed on giving my absolute all for Bolton Wanderers and then we’ll see what happens from there.”