KEITH Hill says he is reluctant to dive headlong into the free transfer market.

The Wanderers boss is working under a transfer embargo and has limited space in his squad but had previously been linked with a number of free agents – including striker Joe Dodoo and midfielder Graham Dorrans, who has since signed for Dundee.

Salary restrictions, also part of the embargo, further limit Hill’s options. But the manager is also wary of the physical fitness of players still looking for a contract at this stage of the season and says he would be unwilling to gamble unnecessarily.

“The market that we’re actually looking at now is ‘ip, dip, sky blue,’ almost,” he told The Bolton News.

“I am not being disrespectful to anybody, there are good operators still out there but what condition they are in?

“Adam Chicksen must be the diamond in the rough because he hasn’t done any pre-season, not played any games and yet he came in, played three times and hasn’t got an injury.

“How many are out there now on the open market who we can bring in now on trial, or to train and see where they are up to?

“It is a difficult one. You get stuck between a rock and a hard place. I am conscious of having to try and develop the young players because I am going to need them, in case there are more injuries.

“But going back out into the market for one slot, maybe two, I might as well do ‘ip, dip, sky blue’ or something.”

Speaking after Wanderers’ 1-1 draw against Sunderland, Hill admits he needs players like Daryl Murphy, Harry Brockbank, Josh Earl and Chris O’Grady back in action as soon as possible – but also for his younger players to push on.

“It’s difficult and there are no excuses but our bench is weak at the moment in time. That’s just a consequence of the embargo we’re under,” he said.

“But that is the only negative. We have players who we need to get fit quickly because I need to make changes from the bench to make us win that game. That is the next step.”