SAM Lavelle is upset Football League red tape has cost him a year of his professional career.

The 20-year-old defender is looking for a new club this summer after being told Wanderers will not be picking up his contract next season.

But just eight months ago, his performances in the development squad after his arrival from Blackburn Rovers’ academy had seemingly put him on the fringes of the Bolton first team.

Lavelle had signed a short-term deal last September and says he was assured the transfer embargo would be lifted by Christmas, at which time a new contract would be agreed.

Phil Parkinson had hoped to involve the former Scotland youth international in some of the Checkatrade Trophy games alongside other up-and-coming talents like Alex Perry, Jack Earing and Jeff King but as the embargo rumbled on longer than forecast both he and King were prohibited from being registered in the 23-man quota.

The restrictions also prevented the youngster from going out on loan during last season, leaving him heading towards his 21st birthday without any senior experience.

Speaking to The Bolton News, Lavelle feels let down by the EFL’s policy and concerned at what price the wasted time may have on his progress as a footballer.

“The embargo has stopped me playing first team football, stopped me going out on loan – and as a young English footballer, surely I am the one the FA or the Football League should be trying to help?

“The gaffer openly said he would have played me in the EFL Trophy and then in the league this year. With four, five or six games under my belt, who knows what I could have done?

“I’m mad at the authorities. I understand there has to be some sanctions for Bolton’s money issues but they are punishing a young English player instead of Bolton Wanderers.”

Wanderers lobbied the EFL to allow them to register attacking midfielder King in March but were turned down by a board vote.

The EFL then issued a statement to clarify their position on King, Lavelle and another ex-Blackburn youngster, Hyuga Tanner, were granted permission to sign for the club to work at Under-23 level only.

“The EFL sanctioned the registrations of King, along with Sam Lavelle and Hyuga Tanner earlier this season, on the strict proviso it was for non-first team football in an attempt to assist and further their development as young players,” it read.

“The club was aware at the time of signing these players, that they could not be selected for any first team game without being included in the 23-man quota as per the embargo.”

Lavelle had been a regular for David Lee’s Under-23s but was left disappointed in late June as he was told by text he was free to find another club.

“I am very grateful to Bolton for signing me and, to be fair to the gaffer, he phoned my dad to explain the unfortunate situation,” he added.

“All the Under-23s heard about their contracts in the middle of May, King and Perry signed on and the rest were released, but they were ‘undecided’ on me.

“The gaffer didn’t have me in his plans for the Championship, which is fair enough, but they were waiting for the embargo to end so they could sign me with no risk.

“I feel a bit like I was left hung out to dry.

“Now I have no league games under my belt going into another summer, which makes it even harder to sign for a league club.”

Wanderers have announced a major restructure of the Under-23s this summer and will bring in a number of trialists this week with a view to boosting David Lee’s squad.

The club is also due to officially appoint a specialist development squad scout this summer to seek out potential signings.