SUCH is the lot of a Bolton Wanderers manager these days that members of the first-team squad are not up to speed with the season already a third of the way towards its conclusion.

There is no fault on behalf of the club’s medical staff, nor particularly the players concerned, but a fact of life when signing those out of contract, or made available for loan, is that they may not be the finished article.

That has certainly been the case for Parkinson and Wanderers. In each of his three seasons in charge, players have had to be ‘brought up to speed’ while the campaign played out.

It is a policy not without its downside, as the manager found out when Andy Taylor picked up a particularly nasty calf injury at Preston in September.

Jonathan Grounds had been signed as a rival for the left-back spot on loan from Birmingham City but had been all-but excluded from the training ground at St Andrew’s. He arrived at Bolton with a decent Championship CV but, to all intent and purpose, lacking fitness.

The same could be said of Lloyd Dyer – drafted in as a free agent to give Parkinson’s side some tactical flexibility, the veteran wing-back struggled badly in his first two starts.

Parkinson has given thought to changes in personnel during January but wants to give a fair chance to the members of his current squad, leading to the much-publicised ‘fresh start’ during the international break.

“We are looking towards January and that’s an ongoing process but I think we have got more to come from the ones we brought in,” he told The Bolton News.

“Groundsy (Jonathan Grounds) is a good example. We threw him into the team when he wasn’t right and the games came thick and fast for him.

“But in the last two weeks we’ve been able to take a step back with him, almost a mini pre-season, and it’s been the same for Lloyd Dyer.

“This is a relentless league, not just from game to game but within matches as well. The physical stats back that up.

“Out of necessity we’ve brought players in who have missed a lot of football, or missed pre-season and Nick Allamby has worked really hard with those players in the last couple of weeks. I hope they can step things up now.

“We have also got players like Yanic (Wildschut) who there’s plenty more to come from.

“January is a time when every club will make one or two changes – I don’t think we’ll be any different – but I want to get more out of what we have got.”

Parkinson has also heeded lessons from a previous international break, admitting that both Josh Magennis and Pawel Olkowski suffered slightly for their time away with Northern Ireland and Poland, respectively.

“They have both come back in good shape,” he said of the pair, who joined in with training at the stadium yesterday. “Neither of them got on the pitch for their country but we’ve monitored what they have done in terms of training.

“The last time Pawel went away he’d probably had too much inactivity but this time he looks a lot better. He has learned from it and was looking great in training. So did Josh.”

International breaks have not always proved as tranquil as they may sound on paper for Parkinson – but he says a quiet fortnight has enabled him to put a fresh perspective on what needs to be done to improve results, starting with tomorrow’s trip to Millwall.

“We needed a period of calm,” he said. “I would always spend time reflecting on what I feel we need to do, how we can get more out of players and help them towards their best form. But in the past two weeks the training has gone up a level.

“Some of the lads who came in a little later haven’t really had a lot of time on the training ground because of midweek games.

“A couple of days away from it all has helped the staff as well. I think there’s something in that old saying ‘you can’t see the woods for the trees’ and when you’re in every single say, maybe a couple of days off can help focus your mind.

“I certainly felt refreshed when I came back in, hopefully to get some points on the board.”