Nobody could blame Luca Connell for leaving Bolton Wanderers this summer – just so long as it is for footballing reasons.

Folk at the Eddie Davies Academy are quite rightly bursting with pride at his rapid rise to international football, which quite aptly for an Evertonian, has come right out of the blue.

Mick McCarthy admits he hasn’t seen him play live – and he won’t be alone. Plenty of Ireland fans will have been rushing straight to Google when the squad for Gibraltar and Denmark was named.

In the blink of an eye the midfielder announced himself on the first-team scene at Bolton and could now make his debut for the Republic this week.

Who could have thought that possible when a slip of a young man jogged on to the field in the last minute against Walsall in the FA Cup back in January? Certainly not me.

Everyone involved in Connell’s footballing development from the age of nine deserves a lot of credit. Hundreds of hours of coaching have got him this far and, at the age of 18, he has a bright future sprawling out ahead of him.

My hope, as a steady queue of clubs line up to try and sign him, is that his progression as a player is put first, and not anything else.

Since the turn of the year there seems to have been a different club linked with him each and every week in the tabloids – Southampton, Rangers, Burnley, Leeds United, Brighton, Norwich City.

All attractive prospects but do any of them guarantee him first-team football and a chance to improve?

It seems to me that, should he sign for a Premier League side, the best he could hope for is a smattering of cup games and time in the Under-23s – a level he outgrew quickly at Bolton – or perhaps a loan elsewhere? 

Of course, such a move would be more financially beneficial than the scholarship contract he current has at Wanderers, although I would be hugely surprised if that was not quickly converted to a professional one once new ownership is in place in the next couple of months.

As much as Connell’s talent has come to the fore in the last few months we are still talking about a player with just eight Championship starts under his belt.

He is still learning the game and needs time on the pitch to do so.

With everything that has happened under the previous ownership, and the way the players have been treated, it is difficult to make a solid argument to stay at Bolton. 

I fully expect the club to repair itself eventually but, right here and now, there are too many intangibles. 

The countdown clock has been started by the administrators, however, and with all the bids now due in by June 7 it won’t be long before things should start to take shape.

So much needs to be organised – management, playing squad, pre-season – but the administrators do not want that job.

They want to be out the door before players return in late June. And if so, there is surely no rush for Connell to get out of the door?

How exciting it would be to see the 18-year-old given a chance to be one of the building blocks of a re-born Wanderers, alongside the likes of Ronan Darcy, friends who came all the way through with him from junior football.

Wanderers fans have yearned for homegrown players to be given more chances but the circumstances were deemed too pressurised. 

Connell aside, Phil Parkinson felt putting youngsters in was too big a risk to take until, with his side already relegated, he had no other choice in the final few games.

Next season will be quite different. With at least 12 points to make up the expectation will be quite different than it was the last time Wanderers played football in League One.

I suspect this will be a summer where Wanderers bid goodbye to plenty of familiar faces. Josh Vela has announced he will be leaving, Mark Beevers has now signed for Peterborough, and both Sammy Ameobi and Pawel Olkowski handed in their notice to nullify the final year of their contract.

In every crisis there is an opportunity, however, and wholesale changes in the playing squad will give Wanderers a chance to reinvent themselves in League One.

With the right planning, and working in tandem with the academy, it is a great opportunity for a new owner to get a club playing football to win back supporters.

If Connell can be convinced to be a key member of a new-look team, getting the regular football his young career needs, it would be a win-win situation.