DECLAN John is looking to move on quickly from the ‘missing chunk’ of his career and find a new lease of life with Bolton Wanderers.

The Wales international has endured a mysterious lull in the last 20 months, finding himself frozen out by Swansea City and ignored during a loan spell at Sunderland.

John has played just one league game since May 2019 but arrives on loan at the University of Bolton Stadium determined to prove to the likes of Steve Cooper and Phil Parkinson that they were wrong to overlook him for so long.

“I can’t really look too far into the future or beyond the summer,” the 25-year-old told The Bolton News. “But my contract is up at the end of the season with Swansea City and the main reason for me to come to Bolton is to play week-in, week-out, to show people what they have been missing.

“I have not been given a chance by two or three managers now and that’s why I was buzzing when my agent said Bolton were in for me.

“This is a great club but most importantly there is a manager here who has faith that I can come in and make a difference, so that’s what I’ll do.”

Capped by his country less than two years ago, John’s fall from grace has been abrupt. More of a puzzle, however, has been the lack of rationale offered by those who have left him watching on from the side-lines.

“I wish I could tell you,” John shrugged. “To be honest, I’ve never really been given a good answer.

“I went in to see the Sunderland manager (Parkinson) a couple of times and he couldn’t really give me a good reason and Swansea was exactly the same.

“When I went to Sunderland on loan, about two or three days before I reported to training the manager phoned me up for a chat, and he said he wanted me to come in and get games.

“From the way it went I thought maybe I wouldn’t get in straight away, that it would probably be a couple of weeks and I’d be coming off the bench, that sort of thing. But it went on and on, and the chance just never came around.

“By the time I got to see him again to speak further about it, all the Covid stuff started happening and I’d been there six or seven weeks without a chance to show him what I was about.

“When I went back (to Swansea) I had about two or three weeks of training and then picked up an injury but after that I got a phone call telling me I would be training with the Under-23s, so that’s what I have been doing ever since.”

The Bolton News: Declan John with his Wanderers team-mate Lloyd Isgrove on Wales Under-21 duty. Picture by Gareth JohnDeclan John with his Wanderers team-mate Lloyd Isgrove on Wales Under-21 duty. Picture by Gareth John

From the outside, it may be tempting to deduce that John has played some part in his own downfall – but reports from the training camps at both Swansea and Sunderland have been positive.

“I try not to read articles about myself because I think it’s hard for people to know what it’s like behind the scenes or why clubs make the decisions they do,” he said. “But this one was suggesting that I hadn’t made the team because there was a problem with my attitude.

“I have never been that sort of person but people do make assumptions about you when you spend so long out of a team and think something must be up because there’s a big chunk of your career missing.

“But I have always been someone who works hard and gets their head down. It’s as simple as that.”

John has played in League One on loan at Barnsley and Chesterfield, where he played in the same squad as his new manager, Ian Evatt, but this will be his first foray into League Two.

“A few people have asked me why I am dropping down to League Two but I see it as an opportunity,” he said. “It’s a chance to get my face back out there, in the shop window.

“I know I can play Championship level at the very least but right now it’s about coming in to do a good job for the gaffer and the rest will take care of itself.”

Both John and fellow new signing Kieran Lee look set to be plunged straight into action on Tuesday night as Wanderers make the long journey to Exeter City.

The 500-mile round trip may seem a slog but after being mothballed for such an extended length of time, John is itching to show what he can do.

“It doesn’t matter to me one, two, three games a week,” he said. “Bring them on.

“You look at the table and Bolton haven’t made the start they maybe expected but I have to say having trained with the lads for a few days now, I’m quite surprised because there’s a lot of quality there.

“If me and Kieran can come in and get things going, then great. He’s experienced and has plenty to offer but we’re both here for the same thing, to get back out there on the pitch and play.”

The Bolton News: Declan John in action for Cardiff against Norwich in 2014Declan John in action for Cardiff against Norwich in 2014