SAM Allardyce was way ahead of his time guiding Wanderers to success in the Premier League era but his comments on Tuesday night’s postponed game against Doncaster Rovers looked decidedly out of date.

The man who brought Bolton – and so many others – kicking and screaming into the 21st century with his use of sports science took a dim view on cancelling the game to protect the welfare of young players who had been fast-tracked into the senior set-up.

Phil Parkinson’s administration-hit team had just three fit senior players – Remi Matthews, Luke Murphy and Jason Lowe – plus 24-year-old James Weir, who had missed more than a year of football before being pushed into four back-to-back 90-minute games at the start of this season.

"When you have got the opportunity to play first-team football, which they never expected, then it would make them stronger and better players much, much quicker by this experience, even though it was a bad one,” he said of the potential impact of a 5-0 defeat at Tranmere Rovers.

"If they had enough players they should play the game, if they didn't have enough players then that is a different story.

"The welfare of what is my concern.

"There are mental strains but that is what you have to conquer as a footballer and if you are good enough you're old enough."

Big Sam used to hand out a ‘Bible of Excellence’ to his players to ensure they remained in top condition, recovered correctly between games and maintained the highest possible standards. His research was meticulous, and the results were there for all to see.

To suggest the 17 and 18-year-old players simply had to roll up their sleeves and play a fourth game in 11 days conflicts significantly with that ethos.

When Allardyce ruled the Reebok roost examples of young players moving up from the old youth team or reserve grade were not exactly plentiful – but the graduation of Kevin Nolan at the tail end of 2000 and Ricardo Vaz Te in 2004 are perhaps our best shot. Each was phased into the team steadily, with a strong and experienced group around them.

Which youngster could fail to learn when you have top pros like Jussi Jaaskelainen, Per Frandsen, Gudni Bergsson, Anthony Barness or Jimmy Phillips around you?

Compare that to the uncertain first team environment the current mix of 17-year-olds Joe White, Callum King-Harmes and Sonny Graham or 18-year-olds Ronan Darcy and Eddie Brown are now stepping into.

Are we really saying that in the name of fulfilling fixtures, a club in Bolton’s situation should have to risk the welfare of teenagers?

Of course not. Even the EFL acknowledged the challenging situation faced by Wanderers, and morally-speaking, the club’s decision to postpone the game was correct. Had the issue been forced to the fore by a major injury we would have wasted no time in questioning the club’s attitude to safeguarding.

There has to be a line drawn, however, and that is why I expect the EFL to think hard on what precedent has been set here.

This situation is a unique one – but the way football is heading outside the Premier League, you can bet your last parachute payment it will not be the last time this happens.

Bolton were allowed to start this season in administration, a risky strategy no matter how close the administrators said the club was to being sold before the Wycombe game on August 3.

Once that game was played and the club remained unsold, the EFL had the opportunity to take the same line as they did with Bury – but declined to do so.

A countdown clock was started 12 days ago at the Shakers which expires at 5pm on Friday and signals the end of their stay in the Football League. A quite frightening thought.

Wanderers, meanwhile, were told to press ahead, play the kids if necessary. They drifted through their opening few league games, raising question among League One owners and managers about what it has done to the integrity of the competition.

The decision to postpone Tuesday night’s game with just over 24 hours’ notice was done with eyes wide open. Yes, the club pointed to guidelines in the Premier League’s much-vaunted Elite Player Performance Plan to back-up their argument, but they knew they were never going to get the EFL’s blessing at such a late stage and must have realised what an inconvenience it would be to fans of both clubs.