KEAN Bryan recently found himself as just about the only person at Bramall Lane who isn’t having a ball in the Premier League.

For while Chris Wilder’s men have excelled since their promotion to the top flight, it has been a bittersweet spell for the former Manchester City defender as he waited in the wings for an opportunity.

Bryan played just three times for the Blades this season, all cup matches, and has not been selected in a single matchday squad, leading him to look for opportunities elsewhere.

Having already tread the loan boards across the North West with Oldham Athletic and Bury, he agreed to spend the rest of the season with Wanderers and went straight into Keith Hill’s starting line-up against Tranmere.

And the 23-year-old admits his time on the side-lines in South Yorkshire has left him itching to re-establish himself as a regular starter – even if that meant dropping down a couple of divisions to do it.

“I’ve wanted to get out and play football for a while,” he said. “Sheffield United are doing fantastic, the players are doing really well, and it was very hard for me to get a chance but I’m here and I’m excited to get some games under my belt.

“You are not guaranteed games anywhere, you have to work to get into the team. Sheffield United was a frustrating time – the first year was injuries and this year I had a good pre-season and I was told they wanted me to stay, which was good. But things in football change quickly.

“They got off to a great start and from there I didn’t get a chance to play.

“I feel like I have to prove how good I can be again. It has been a while since I was in form and so hopefully I can do well here.

“I have played games in this league and I’d like to think I did well so I can hit the ground running.

“Last time I played regular league football is over a year ago now. I need to get back out there now.”

Bryan was just a teenager when he was taken from City’s academy to Gigg Lane by current Wanderers assistant boss David Flitcroft.

There he also played in a Shakers squad which included another of Hill’s new arrivals, Jacob Mellis, and two of the players he was charged with stopping on Saturday, Neil Danns and James Vaughan, now at Tranmere.

Mancunian born and bred, Bryan knows what a rough few years it has been for Bolton – and indeed his former club, Bury. But he hopes that his loan spell can coincide with a change of fortune at the UniBol, with some happier times on the horizon.

“I’ve watched Bolton from the days where they were in the Premier League and it’s a shame what has happened in recent years,” he said. “Hopefully times have changed and we can turn a corner, get the club going back in the right direction.”

To get a grip on Bolton’s troubled recent past you need only to glance at the League One table, which shows the club anchored to the bottom and still 17 points adrift of safety with 18 games to play.

Some bookmakers are offering odds of 200/1 on that Bolton will be relegated – and most Whites fans accept that after starting the season on minus 12 points, in administration and with only a handful of professional players on the books, there are good reasons for the lowly position.

Saturday’s victory did, however, see Bolton surpass the number of points that Tranmere have taken this season. Their current rate of 0.88 points per game is still not high enough to ensure survival but during the time Hill has been in charge, form has been better than Tranmere and Southend, and level on par with MK Dons.

Bryan is remaining upbeat about Wanderers’ remaining 18 games and thinks it is important his team-mates and the fans do the same.

“The situation is what it is,” he said. “I knew what it was before I signed.

“I need to get that hunger back and play football so I will come here and fight.

“Football is a crazy game and strange things happen. We can only give it our best.

“It’s a massive club, not a little one. Everyone knows it. I am excited to be here.

“You have to stay optimistic or otherwise you might it might as well be done and dusted, and say you are already down in League Two. You have to fight every game, there’s still a lot to play and some in hand too.

“It’s about getting it right on the pitch and seeing what comes of it at the end of the season.”