PHIL Parkinson’s January transfer window was largely spent swimming against a tide of distraction and negative headlines.

Half of the month spent in a registration embargo, the net result of which was the loss of striker Christian Doidge, followed by wage worries, takeover talk and fan protests. Convincing players to join the relegation fight under such circumstances proved a difficult conversation – and one Parkinson grew tired of having.

Though the quest to strengthen his attack failed in a well-publicised scramble for Sheffield United’s Ched Evans, there is a sense of achievement in the manager’s voice when he talks about the one player who did walk through the doors on deadline day.

Callum Connolly had been a target for Bolton in the summer, when the influence of Joe Royle guided the young Evertonian down the road towards Wigan Athletic. But when the move to the DW Stadium proved less successful than hoped, Parkinson jumped at the chance to resurrect his interest. Happily, the feeling was mutual.

“I spoke to Mick McCarthy in the summer about Callum’s qualities and what he brings to the party,” he said. “I spoke with Mick again before we signed him, and he said he’s a tough character, confident in his own ability, and he was really keen to come.

“I have had enough of players who see Bolton as this problem or that problem. It was refreshing to have a player and his agent ringing us up and asking about coming to join the battle. That is what it is going to be, we know that.

“I need players who want to be here and ready to roll their sleeves up for the rest of the group.”

Parkinson experienced a number of knock-backs but says he did have players who were ready to join on loan, albeit he suspected they were not ready to make an immediate impact.

“When you look at the players we could have got, they had to be ones who were ready for the challenge not the loan players who are going to come here and feel it’s all about them,” he said. “We sat, as a staff, and looked at the players we could have brought in and came to the conclusion ‘you know, we’re doing this for the sake of it.’ “It is about the club. And Callum fits that criteria.”

Connolly lined up alongside Luca Connell in central midfield at Sheffield United last Saturday, a position Parkinson feels is the 21-year-old’s strongest.

Steve Parkin, who took on media duties post-match at Bramall Lane, said he was pleased with the youngster’s debut, coming as it did against one of the strongest midfields in the Championship.

“We were delighted with young Callum and he did well. He did a good job considering he hasn’t played a whole load of first team football,” he said.

“He did well. It’s not an easy job playing in midfield against Sheffield United. They have got some excellent, talented players who like to dominate the ball.

“He got some crucial tackles in the right areas and used the ball well. He will be a little bit disappointed with his cross at the end, that he didn’t produce a bit of quality, but he was probably fatiguing a bit because his first team starts at Wigan have been numbered.

“But he will get stronger as the days and weeks go on, we’re sure of that.”

Parkinson has also been impressed by the way Connell has taken to senior football at Wanderers since being fast-tracked from the Under-18s.

“I don’t think he’s feeling any pressure at all,” he said.

“He’s just enjoying being part of the first team environment and it’s really refreshing to see one of the young players come in and make his mark. I’m really pleased with him.”