TWENTY minutes before the loan window closed Connor Hall suspected he may have missed the boat again.

A queue of clubs had formed waiting to take the striker on loan but Phil Parkinson refused to sanction the move until he had wrapped up at least one senior replacement, in this case Forest Green’s Christian Doidge.

Assistant boss Steve Parkin had warned Hall during training that his services could be required the next day at Preston and so it was with bitter-sweet interest that he watched a busy deadline day clock tick down, until the phone call he had been waiting for finally arrived.

Doidge’s transfer complete, a loan to Accrington Stanley was rushed through to allow the Slough-born 20-year-old to spread his wings and potentially prove to his parent club that they were wise to tie him down to an extended deal this summer.

Hall’s footballing career seems to have been based around playing catch-up.

He is not, like many of his team-mates in last season’s title-winning Under-23s, a typical product of the academy system and attended college at Bisham Abbey before being spotted by Sheffield United.

Hall’s footballing education had been spent in the backwaters of Binfield, Eldon Celtic and Ascot United in Berkshire – and the Blades wasted no time in sending the teenager out for more loan action. A first pro deal at Bramall Lane was followed by spells at Sheffield FC, Mickleover Sports and Woking but they failed to earn him a longer stay, and led to a trial at Bolton.

The rest is history. A haul of 23 goals at development squad level in his first full season as a professional put Hall’s name on the lips of every Bolton Wanderers fan and forced him into first team contention, with a debut coming as a substitute in the FA Cup defeat to Huddersfield Town back in January.

This season his claim for inclusion has strengthened to the point he has been regarded as a senior player. A full debut against Leeds United in the Carabao Cup was a bit step in the right direction. But it is with a degree of maturity beyond his years that Hall accepts he can no longer sit around and wait for an opportunity.

“I have got to go and make it happen,” he told The Bolton News, prior to Accrington’s home game with Burton Albion this Saturday. “That experience when I was 18 and 19 will help me massively. I know it will be physical. I know nobody is going to go easy.

“I’ve been training with the first team at Bolton alongside very good players and I feel like I’m ready to take that next step now.

“It has been great to get that experience but it’s got to the stage where if I don’t make the squad on a Saturday then it’s tougher to progress.

“This is one league down from Bolton and if I can do well, maybe extend the deal to the rest of the season, then the (Bolton) gaffer can see I can handle myself at that level and hopefully offer me a chance in the Championship to see how far I can go.”

Hall had no shortage of options in the loan window but joins a club which has attracted plenty of plaudits for the way it has evolved in recent years. John Coleman’s side have lost just one of their first six games this season – as the ‘Club That Wouldn’t Die’ continues to punch well above its financial weight.

More glamorous options were on the table, including one in the Scottish top flight. But while the opportunity to play at packed-out Ibrox or Celtic Park clearly had an appeal, Hall felt the proximity to Bolton and his adopted home would mean he could better remain in Wanderers’ gaze.

“Location was quite important,” he said. “I had a few options and most of them were further away from Bolton or my home down south, including one up in the Scottish Premier League.

“It is flattering to have been offered the chance to play up there but I felt it would be better to be playing for an English club. There’s the fact I wouldn’t be up there on my own, which would be difficult if you weren’t getting games, but I just felt Accrington are ambitious, they play good football and Bolton will know exactly where I’m up to.

“I’d actually heard about Accrington right at the start of the window. They were the first ones to make an enquiry about me. So when you know they have done their homework and looked at what they are buying it makes you think it could be the right fit.

“I’ve done a few days of training with them now and it’s been great. It’s an ambitious club, the coaching staff are really close to the players and the lads have been very welcoming. I feel like I’ll enjoy it here.”

Hall is taking nothing for granted by dropping down a division and goes to the Crown Ground looking to improve himself.

Last season the youngster credited extra training sessions with David Lee and Tony Kelly for ending a barren run in front of goal and spurring him on to become the first player to hit 20 Professional Development League goals in a season since the leagues were restructured in 2012.

“It’s a case of small steps at the moment,” he said. “I don’t want to look too far ahead or go in there saying I’m going to do this and that.

“I watched them against Scunthorpe United and they did very well so I wouldn’t expect the manager to make many changes to the team. I think a place on the bench is realistically my first aim.

“Wherever I’ve played in my career, from Sunday League or turning professional, I have scored goals. But I know there are things I need to work on.

“I think I’d like to improve my conversion rate and make sure I’m finishing better.

“Looking back to last season with the Under-23s things weren’t really going for me at the start of the season and I wasn’t pleased with how I was playing. Then I scored a hat-trick in one game and I just couldn’t stop. The goals came every week and it just starts to come naturally to you.

“Being a striker confidence is a massive thing but I know I have got to get my head down and make sure this loan works for me.

“If I get something out of it then Accrington do as well.”