MIDFIELD is one of the most competitive areas when picking Wanderers’ team of the decade – with several candidates standing out above the crowd.

Once again, players who made our shortlist must have featured in 30 games or more between January 1, 2010 and time of writing.

First up is a player who lit up the Premier League on his arrival from Houston Dynamo in January 2010. Stuart Holden was a relative unknown to Bolton fans but quickly became a hugely popular figure on the terraces by virtue of his high-energy performances, which married perfectly with midfield partners, Fabrice Muamba, Chung-Yong Lee and Mark Davies.

The Bolton News: Stuart Holden in action for Bolton Wanderers reserves against Bury reserves. Photo by Gus Sivyer, Newsquest (Bolton) Ltd, Monday February 12 2012..

All three men make our list as the fulcrum of arguably Wanderers’ most free-flowing team of the decade, which briefly threatened to break into the Premier League’s elite once again.

Unfortunately, each would suffer terrible misfortune. Holden’s career was rocked by a serious injury sustained in a challenge with Manchester United’s Jonny Evans at Old Trafford. He returned to make a handful of appearances for Bolton, and a brief loan spell at Sheffield Wednesday, but two more serious knee injuries forced his retirement in 2016.

Former England Under-21 star Muamba had been a big money buy for Gary Megson in 2008 but had struggled for consistency until Owen Coyle happened across his magic midfield mix.

Adding the defensive resolve to his more attacking team-mates, the ex-Arsenal man was at the peak of his powers in March 2012 when he collapsed during an FA Cup quarter-final at Tottenham after going into cardiac arrest. His heart had stopped for 78 minutes but thanks to the superb work done on the pitch and in the London Chest Hospital afterwards his life was dramatically saved.

Muamba retired in August 2012 but continues to champion medical causes in football and has also moved into coaching.

The Bolton News: RETURN: Chung-Yong Lee in his days at Wanderers

Chung-Yong was a left-field signing from FC Seoul in 2009 and quickly took the Premier League by storm.

The skilful Korean midfielder played at the 2010 World Cup for South Korea and scored a memorable winner against Birmingham City in the FA Cup quarter-final a year later.

His moment of bad luck came in a pre-season friendly at Newport in July 2011 when a mistimed challenge left him with a double fractured leg. He returned nine months later but was unable to affect the team’s slide to relegation.

Chung-Yong did continue, gradually improving in the Championship to become an influential player once more, and returning to the top flight with Crystal Palace in February 2015.

Davies was another huge talent whose career was stunted by injury. With a bustling style once compared to that of Paul Gascoigne, the midfielder made a swift impact on his arrival from Wolves and looked to be on the verge of England Under-21 honours.

Three serious knee injuries, however, meant Bolton never quite got to see the very best of Davies despite him amassing 187 appearances over the decade.

The Bolton News: WAITING GAME: Jay Spearing is not waving goodbye to Wanderers just yet

Jay Spearing could also make a case for inclusion, having anchored the Bolton midfield for several seasons after his move from boyhood club Liverpool.

Having initially signed on loan, Dougie Freedman made his move permanent in 2013 and he went on to play 173 times, many of which were as captain.

Aside from David Wheater, Darren Pratley is the only other Bolton player to make 200 appearances during the decade. The combative ball-winner captained the club and also scored 17 goals.

Josh Vela just missed out on a double century – breaking into the team as a teenager in the Premier League, playing at right-back under Neil Lennon and then as an attacking midfielder before his departure for Hibs last summer.

Chris Eagles also found the target 19 times as a Wanderers player, finishing as the top scorer in the 2012/13 campaign with a dozen.

And ‘The Postman’ Fil Morais will always be held in high regard at Wanderers for his work under Phil Parkinson – not least the night he created all four goals in a 4-0 victory against Gillingham.

Midfielders who meet the criteria… Chris Eagles 106 appearances, Craig Noone 65, Darren Pratley 203, Fabrice Muamba 89, Fil Morais 56, Gary O’Neill 31, James Henry 35, Jason Lowe 55, Jay Spearing 173, Joe Williams 30, Josh Vela 182, Karl Henry 33, Chung-Yong Lee 179, Liam Feeney 92, Liam Trotter 73, Mark Davies 187, Martin Petrov 87, Matty Taylor 65, Medo Kamara 57, Neil Danns 116, Nigel Reo-Coker 42, Rob Hall 35, Sammi Ameobi 91, Stu Holden 38, Will Buckley 64.