KEITH Hill does not want Thibaud Verlinden’s focus to stray away from Wanderers despite talk of a possible January return to Stoke City.

The Belgian winger will remain on loan at Bolton until January but his parent club’s decision to withdraw him from last weekend’s FA Cup game so that he does not get cup-tied prompted some speculation he could soon be heading back to the Potteries.

Michael O’Neill has now replaced Nathan Jones at the Bet365 Stadium and Hill expects him to pay attention to how Verlinden fares for Wanderers over the coming weeks.

“They have got a new manager and obviously they want to have a look,” he said.

“I’m sure they will monitor how he is doing, their staff will do their due diligence, but for now he just has to concentrate on games.

“We have got a plan for Thibaud, as we have for all the players, and we’ve got a plan for January regardless of any implications that the EFL sanctions bring on us.”

Verlinden should come back into the side against MK Dons this afternoon after sitting out against Plymouth, and is one of several players in the squad whose future beyond the turn of 2020 is undecided.

Jake Wright, Adam Chicksen, Liam Bridcutt, Will Buckley and Josh Earl also fall into the same category but Hill is determined to keep a lid on contract talk for the time being.

“The players themselves are important to us now,” he said. “We don’t want to create chaos.

“It can become a mind-bomb if we start talking about players’ futures beyond next week. The focus then turns from team to ‘me’ and we don’t want that culture. It has to be about the team and sacrificial behaviour.

“When we get to a place where we can talk about individuals’ futures and contract, extending loan deals, we’ll do it when it’s appropriate.

“But we want the focus to be on the weekend’s games rather than individuals’ saying ‘am I staying, am I going?’ or ‘Do I play for Bolton or Stoke?’ We don’t want that chaos.”