JOE Pritchard insists his decision to leave Wanderers this summer was down to timing and not unpaid wages.

The 22-year-old midfielder was out of contract at the UniBol this summer and unable to be offered a new deal until the club came out of administration.

Accrington Stanley took full advantage of the opportunity to snap up the former Tottenham youth product on a two-year deal – but speaking to The Bolton News, Pritchard insists he has no axe to grind with his former club.

“It came to a point where nothing was definite,” he said. “I felt that in football you can’t afford to wait around for something to happen. You have to be proactive, and at my age I need to be playing football.

“If there had been an offer from Bolton I would have taken it because it’s a great club and I enjoyed my experience there but I couldn’t risk it.”

Pritchard made five appearances in total for Wanderers, a number stunted by the fact he was forced to wait longer than expected to make his debut because of an EFL ‘soft embargo’ which limited the number of players which could be registered for the first team.

But after making his league debut as a substitute in the 2-0 home defeat against West Brom in January he edged ahead of first-team regular, Josh Vela, in Phil Parkinson’s reckoning, making his full bow against Bristol City in the FA Cup alongside Luca Connell.

Though his teenage team-mate went on to command a regular spot to the end of the season, paving the way for a move to Celtic, Pritchard believes the relegation pressures made it difficult for his manager to turn to youth.

“I think the added pressure just made it more difficult to pick me,” he said. “I made five appearances but I wish it could have been a lot more.

“I don’t think the manager used it as an excuse because throughout the season he used a lot of the younger lads.

“There were ones he favoured ahead of me, and that’s his decision, I respect that.

“I have a lot to thank him for because he gave me my first taste of senior football and I think he did a brilliant job in the circumstances, personally.”

Pritchard is looking forward to lining up against Wanderers in League One this season for his new club and hopes a swift end will be brought to the financial problems which plagued his only season in the senior set-up.

“It definitely wasn’t a case of leaving because things were going wrong or the club was in trouble,” he said. “It was the fact I got an offer of security.

“Last season was my first taste of first-team football and that’s a debt I’ll always owe to Bolton Wanderers.

“I remember coming home after my debut, I’d got my match-worn shirt with my name and number on the back. That really meant something.

“The look on the face of my mum and dad, how proud they were, I wasn’t going to sit around waiting for opportunities. I am hungry and I want to get out there and have more success, push myself as far as I can possibly go.

“That can only happen when I’m out there on the pitch.”

Pritchard also sought the advice of Connor Hall before deciding whether to sign with Stanley.

Hall spent the first half of last season on loan with John Coleman’s side, giving them a glowing recommendation.

“Connor was a big factor. He gave me a good insight into what the manager is like, what the lads are like, how the fans are,” added Pritchard. “When the manager sits you down and tells you this and that you know it is because he wants to sign you. That’s fine – but Connor was able to be an in-between, he allowed me to have a more informed opinion.

“I know the way they play, I spoke to the manager who told me about the philosophy of the club and it sounded good.”