WANDERERS have just one dress rehearsal to go before the big kick-off against Bradford City in the Carabao Cup – but how are the players really faring?

New head coach Ian Evatt has made a raft of new signings to construct a squad barely recognisable from the one which dropped out of League One last season.

All their friendly games have been played out of public sight – but The Bolton News has been there to track the Whites’ progress, which faltered against Wigan Athletic on Tuesday after four successive victories.

Who goes into Friday night’s game against Crewe with something to prove, and who looks to have booked their place on the team-sheet already?

The Bolton News:


BILLY CRELLIN - Hasn’t conceded a goal, which really leaves him unchallenged in the number one spot for Wanderers. The Fleetwood Town loanee made three fine saves against Accrington Stanley, yet there is scope for improvement, especially in his distribution choices at the back.

MATT ALEXANDER – Played the full game against Wigan Athletic after picking up minutes here and there in pre-season. When Matt Gilks was brought in as a player/coach many speculated he could be sent out on loan to gain more experience but his game time suggests he will be the back-up to Crellin.


The Bolton News:


GEORGE TAFT – The former Leicester City and Burton Albion centre-back has looked comfortable on the ball and good in the air, not really putting a foot wrong in the games he has started. He helped to steady the ship against Wigan and looks a good bet to start on the left side of the back three.

RICARDO SANTOS – Quite aside from his immense physical frame there have been a few touches of craft from Santos, who joined the club from Barnet in the summer. Not afraid to push forward or join up with the attack, has good pace, and has made a decent start.

REISS GREENIDGE – Another imposing centre-half whose most eye-catching attribute in pre-season has been blistering pace. Picked up a minor injury last week which meant he did not feature against Accrington or Wigan, so still to see how he copes with the higher standard of opponent. Interesting prospect, though.

RYAN DELANEY – The Irishman showed a bit of promise in testing circumstances at the end of last season and has had to prove himself all over again to a new head coach. Judging by the amount of game time he has had, he seems to be in a decent position. Delaney has been solid in his outings thus far.

ALEX BAPTISTE – Signed as a centre-back, rather than competition for Jones and Hickman on the right, the experienced defender recently picked up a minor injury, which means we haven’t seen too much of him over the summer. There won’t be too many surprises, though, Baptiste should be a calming influence on a fairly young back line.

HARRY BROCKBANK – Won’t have enjoyed his afternoon at Euxton and might have his work cut out to start the season at centre-half. Brockbank has been briefly used in midfield, and can also play down the right, so his versatility will be an asset, moving forward.

ADAM SENIOR – Up until Tuesday had been used primarily as a substitute, so it would be no surprise to see the Bolton-born defender get game-time on loan elsewhere while he trains with Wanderers during the week. Certainly has promise.

LIAM EDWARDS – Has had to watch from the wings as he recovers from a bad knee injury but Evatt’s recent endorsement should give him some hope that senior football is on the horizon again. Will be good to see him back.

The Bolton News:


GETHIN JONES – Looks to just about have the edge on Jak Hickman for a starting spot, and has done very little wrong during pre-season, providing some great deliveries from the right flank.

Not perhaps an explosive wing-back, like Gordon, but the former Everton trainee looks like an intelligent and hard-working type, so should go down well with the fans.

JAK HICKMAN (pictured) – One of the surprise packages of pre-season so far. Looked a bit of a gamble when he came in on a free, yet he has pushed Jones hard for a spot on the right and is by no means out of the race to start the season. Gets forward, has a bit of needle about him, could do well.

LIAM GORDON – The fans already seem to have taken to ‘Flash’ and his opening two games of the summer were very encouraging indeed. Still young and learning the game but looks like he could be an important player for the Whites this season.

JAMIE MASCOLL – Not many came out of the Wigan game unblemished, yet considering it was the former Wycombe man’s first outing he showed up well. Mascoll has the same sort of pace and energy as Gordon, and the battle for the left wing could get interesting once he gets up to full fitness.

The Bolton News:


ANTONI SARCEVIC – One of the big statement signings made by Wanderers in the summer and has worn the captain’s armband for pretty much every minute he has been on the pitch. Scored a gorgeous goal at Loughborough, which was overshadowed by what happened to Dennis Politic, but sense there is plenty more to come from the former Plymouth midfielder.

BRANDON COMLEY – Probably the most consistent customer of pre-season and though he won’t get the headlines others will this season, his unfussy style looks like it will be hugely important if Evatt’s plan is going to work. Comley has been tidy on the ball and constantly available.

ALI CRAWFORD - We know what the Scot can offer when he is on top song and his set-pieces have been quite the weapon in the opening few pre-season games. Should be able to boss games at League Two level if he can stay fit and injury free.

TOM WHITE – One of the few players who isn’t playing tactical catch-up in Evatt’s squad, having previously played under him at Barrow. Seems to have a similar playing style to Comley which may raise questions over whether both can play in the same team but White has also been effective in the final third.

RONAN DARCY – After breaking into the team as a regular in League One last season Darcy may actually have a bigger fight on his hands to do the same this time around. Wanderers fans know what he brings to the table – work-rate, energy, intelligence on the ball – but the homegrown midfielder has to convince Evatt he can hold down a place in the side.

SONNY GRAHAM - Still has the best beard in the business – one of last season’s surprise finds will have to work hard to get regular games in a congested midfield at Bolton. Definitely has a future with Wanderers but needs game time to continue that development.

GEORGE THOMASON - Signed a loan deal with Bamber Bridge which allows him to play regular first team football but still benefits from full-time training with Wanderers. Worked hard in the pre-season minutes he’s had – even against the Whites!

The Bolton News:


EOIN DOYLE – Arrived after scoring a hatful in this division for Swindon, and quickly got into his groove in pre-season at Bolton. If a decent cross has been aimed at the six-yard box this summer, Doyle has more often than not been on the end of it. His partnership thus far with Delfouneso has been solid too.

NATHAN DELFOUNESO (pictured) – Been on the scoresheet in four successive games now, so the former Blackpool man can’t really ask for a better start to his Bolton career. Compliments Doyle and is happy to link-up with the midfield, so looks at the moment to be a certain starter.

CALLUM KING-HARMES - Played on the wing last season but has been used more as a striker since Evatt’s arrival, the first year pro has shown a few little glimpses that he has the makings of a first team player and could well seek some loan football to further develop once Wanderers have got some striker cover.

MUHAMMADU FAAL – Bagged a good goal against Bamber Bridge but has been side-lined recently, which is a shame for the former Enfield striker. Fans are certainly eager to see more of him after a frustrating start last season.

DENNIS POLITIC – Won’t be featuring this season because of a horror knee injury picked up at Loughborough but will have a part to play – hopefully in League One – for sure.