IT would be easy for the Wanderers players to have allowed their minds to slip elsewhere as they laced up their boots at the training ground for a slightly surreal friendly against Morecambe.

The match should have taken place in the evening at the Globe Arena but the League Two club had struggled to get their pitch ready in time, forcing the clubs to play behind closed doors at Lostock.

It was perhaps just as well. The ongoing pay dispute at Wanderers had reached a head – and minutes after the final whistle, Phil Parkinson and a selection of other staff were on their way to meet with PFA officials and Ken Anderson’s board advisor, Paul Aldridge, to settle the matter once and for all.

Would common ground be reached? Would players receive the bonuses they were owed and avoid the arguments escalating further? Would the EFL have to intervene with transfer restrictions, as was being alleged elsewhere?

There was plenty to ponder as Parkinson lined his side up for a competitive, if rather anodyne friendly encounter.

Once again Bolton started with two wingers – Craig Noone replacing Sammy Ameobi on the right, and Will Buckley picking up on the left after a bright display against Halifax on Saturday.

Jack Hobbs also started the game alongside David Wheater, the centre half strengthening his claim for a permanent contract after a few weeks on trial.

The first half was played at a decent pace. Josh Vela went closest for Wanderers, arrowing a shot just wide of Barry Roche’s right-hand post from the edge of the box.

Clayton Donaldson will also feel he should have opened his pre-season account for his new club, racing on to a through ball from Noone and getting around the keeper before pushing his shot wide.

Jim Bentley is now the longest-serving manager in the Football League and though his Morecambe side struggled last season, narrowly avoiding relegation to the Conference, he will have been pleased with some of the football they played on an immaculate Lostock surface.

Big target man Vadaine Olver fired just over the bar and Ben Alnwick made a decent stop with his legs from Aaron Wildig after initially failing to punch Zak Mills’s cross clear.

Hobbs also made one spectacular clearance right in front of his own goal when the impressive Liam Mandeville lashed in a dangerous cross from the right.

Half time brought an interesting change in goal as Sam Walker, a free agent who made over 200 appearances for Colchester United before failing to agree a new deal in the summer, replaced Alnwick.

At 6ft 6ins the former Chelsea stopper had a relatively straightforward 45 minutes, making only one routine save from Wildig. But having played virtually two seasons as the U’s number one, his age, stature and availability make him a potentially interesting candidate for Parkinson who needs first team cover in the light of Mark Howard’s summer departure.

Another two second-half substitues are also bound to get the tongues wagging.

David Cotterill, the 30-year-old former Wigan Athletic and Birmingham City midfielder, was one of a raft of substitutes who took to the field with 20 minutes to go.

The former Wales international played in India alongside Jussi Jaaskelainen last season but looked in good shape as he replaced Noone on the right flank.

Gary O’Neil was playing at Bristol City last season but has a pretty impressive CV at Premier League and Championship level with the likes of Portsmouth, West Ham and Middlesbrough.

At 35, fans may wrinkle their noses, especially given the pre-season assurances that Wanderers were reducing the average age of their squad. But, again, O’Neil showed a few touches of class which suggest he may be worth a second look on Saturday when La Liga Girona come to Leyland.

At the opposite end of the scale, Under-18s graduate Eddie Brown followed in Luca Connell’s footsteps to make an impact on Wanderers’ pre-season. With some wise words from Adam Le Fondre in his ear as he entered the field, the 17-year-old showed why he is highly rated at the Macron.

We also got a first look at Polish full-back Pawel Olkowski, with one superb jinking run through midfield hinting at an exciting future for the former Cologne defender.

“It was a good run-out,” said Parkinson after a second half which passed by without much incident. “When we moved to the training ground I wondered whether we’d lose that edge. But it was a worthwhile game.”

Wanderers (first 70 mins): Alnwick (Walker 46); Little, Wheater (Beevers 46), Hobbs, Noone, Vela, Lowe, Buckley, Le Fondre, Donaldson (O’Neil 60).

Last 20 mins: Walker; Olkowski, Edwards, Beevers, Darby; Cotterill, Pritchard, Earing, O’Neil; Politic; Brown