CHRIS O’Grady is still thanking his lucky stars that Keith Hill and David Flitcroft had his number on speed dial when they needed a striker on deadline day.

The veteran front man was facing a bleak future at Oldham Athletic, effectively informed he would not be playing another first team game until he found alternative employment.

The League Two club wanted to slash their wage bill and the thought crossed O’Grady’s mind that the 16th club of his professional career could well be his last. And then the phone rang.

Now, the 33-year-old is spearheading a new-look Bolton attack, off the mark with two goals in the Trophy in midweek against Manchester City and fit again after a nightmare injury just days into his Bolton stay.

“Thankfully I don’t have to think about that anymore,” he said, when asked about the issues at Boundary Park. “I could literally be sat there now training with the kids and playing no football until the end of my career. I think you should be thankful for any opportunity that comes your way, especially when it comes on the last day of the transfer window.”

O’Grady was well known to Hill and Flitcroft through previous stints at Barnsley and Rochdale but the last couple of years have not been easy.

Oldham struggled to bounce back after relegation from League One, their managerial hotseat seemingly on permanent spin, and the previous season had been spent at Chesterfield – who bowed out of the Football League in spectacular fashion after boardroom upheaval.

O’Grady might have felt like he was jinxed when just a week after turning up at Bolton he suffered a freak dislocated knee on the training ground, ruling him out for several weeks.

“That’s football for you, isn’t it? It’s all ups and downs but I think I have had a few years where there have been more downs and when that injury happened I thought ‘oh, here we go again.’” he said.

“I had to try and put a positive slant on it, take a step back from everything and just work my way through the recovery. I’m old enough now not to get to upset.

“I took the time to look at the games and see where I could have an impact.”

He employs the same sort of view on Wanderers’ injury issues, which continued with the loss of playmaker Ali Crawford to a knee injury in midweek.

Several important players are out of action – but O’Grady says the club cannot afford to get weighed down by the negativity.

“You can’t really get yourself too fixated on the injuries or feel that everything is going against you,” he said.

“If you view it as an opportunity for the players who haven’t had the chances or the younger players then it’s easier. It would be nice to tick some of the players off who have been on the treatment table because I think there’s an entire team in there at the moment. I hope they can get back quickly and that the ones who are fit at the moment can stay so because I think we’ll be in a good spot.”

Tuesday night’s victory against Manchester City’s youngsters was only the second time in 2019 Bolton had put back-to-back wins together. You have to go all the way back to the promotion season and March 2017 for the last time they managed three – and that started with a memorable 4-2 result against Fleetwood.

O’Grady is confident the belief is still there within the dressing room despite the league table continuing to make difficult viewing.

“The results speak for themselves,” he said. “I have joined clubs in the past where there has been a downward spiral and the mentality can change. The management team have had an impact and it spreads through the players quickly. We have to be on the front foot and get the fans behind us because it’s so important to have their backing.

“(Against City) it was a bit like a puzzle, we needed to work it out. We’d done well to get ahead and should have kicked on but their style set in and they tried to wear us down with all the passing.

“By half time we’d regrouped and came up with some answers, a different strategy. We imposed our game on them rather than the other way around and thankfully that got us the win.

“At home we have got to try and do that, whether it’s the league, the cup, regardless of the opponents.”