THERE were few high points arising from last weekend’s defeat to Wycombe Wanderers, with a rare off-day for rising star Dennis Politic one of many contributing factors in Bolton suffering a 16th league defeat of the campaign.

But manager Keith Hill concedes that any young player – however talented they may be – will have days when they don’t quite reach their peak levels of performance.

The Whites’ hot prospect, just 19 years old, clearly has a bright future ahead of him and Hill is backing his winger to have far more good days than bad as he progresses.

“He’s going to have ups and downs, he’s still learning and hasn’t got that 50-game experience where he’s played against players he can profile – ‘I know what to do against him’,” the manager told The Bolton News.

“He can take in information from us about the players he’s playing against but he needs to experience it against League One full-backs so he can start profiling his own future and knowing what to do.

“He’s not quite there yet and this is why we’ll get up and down.

“But what we’re not getting from Dennis is up and down in terms of his effort, desire, commitment, willingness to learn.

“He was in with me and Dave [Flitcroft] on Monday looking through his highlights, things he could be doing better, things he’s doing well.

“He is going to be a star player because he wants to learn and he’s a quick learner.

“It’s difficult learning in this sort of situation but it’s also an opportunity to grow. You see a lot of players, even experienced ones, grow in this sort of situation as well as younger ones.”

As Wanderers head into the game at Milton Keynes, their chances of retaining their League One status are slimmer than ever.

The November meeting between the two sides, a 1-0 win for Bolton at the UniBol, prompted many at the club to believe a corner had been turned. Hill’s men had won three on the trot in the league but remained in the bottom spot they have occupied from the outset.

And that hope has, slowly but surely, ebbed away with just two victories – against fellow strugglers Southend and Tranmere – chalked up since.

Hill is taking the view that adversity will, in time, make the team and its individuals stronger. And, should the almost-inevitable relegation occur, Wanderers will at least be in decent shape for an immediate return.

“It’s a learning, experience, it makes you stronger. There was no great expectation, there was a plan to be more successful,” he admits.

“It was difficult to put it into perspective. We wanted to, and we’re trying still, to achieve the improbable dream of a group of players and it’s still in our hands to a certain degree.

“But losing games makes you stronger, makes you focused, makes you realise where you are going to get the support if you get any, and it’s not an ideal position to be in. But you start understanding as a manager about players, individually and collectively, the whole environment you are working in.

“It was always difficult to pin a line on a map and say ‘this is where we expect to be at this stage of the season’ because there are so many things we have had to overcome at various stages of the season.

“Personally, I didn’t think we’d turned the corner after the MK Dons game. I am a pretty good protector. I understand we were winning games and looking at depending on continuity and a feelgood factor. I am hoping that will build.

“But I am always looking at the layering system and looking if we are strong enough to withstand injuries, a turn of individual form. We never quite managed to kick on because of a consequence of all those things.

“That is where it’s difficult to retain that continuity when you are losing games because you are always trying to fix it.”