WANDERERS have made a solid start to their recruitment this summer, bringing in three permanent signings and raising hope among supporters that they can challenge at the top end of League One this season.

After a huge rebuilding job last summer, Ian Evatt has deliberately retained the core of his promotion-winning squad in the hope momentum and some tactical know-how can also travel with the club from League Two.

The Bolton boss has also talked about ‘layering’ his squad so that there are at least three challengers for every first team spot – from the man in charge of the shirt, to his senior competitor, and finally a development player.

With that in mind, there is plenty left to do. Wanderers will be bound by some form of squad cap, with rules yet to be completely clarified by the EFL, but it looks likely that Evatt will be operating with 22 outfield players aged over 21.

It is thought that goalkeepers and players aged under-21 will not be counted on the League One cap.

We decided to take a look at Bolton’s current options, suss out where the squad still needs to be strengthened, and where there could be some exceess to be trimmed.

The Bolton News:

GOALKEEPER: Matt Gilks is yet to officially sign his new deal with Wanderers but it has pretty much been taken as read that the experienced stopper will continue playing next season.

Matt Alexander is the only other option in the squad at present. The youngster remains highly regarded at Bolton and has filled-in as a back-up goalkeeper in League One before. But Ian Evatt’s penchant for filling his bench with outfield options may mean chances are limited.

The bigger questions is perhaps: Is Gilks Bolton’s number one this season? At first glance, the answer is ‘yes’.

RIGHT-BACK: Gethin Jones’s consistency has been rewarded with a new deal and his most obvious challenger is the ultra-versatile Harry Brockbank, who can easily slip into any of the defensive positions.

Potentially room for a younger challenger, particularly if Evatt is to stick to his three-tier selection policy.

LEFT-BACK: Without a doubt the most pressing priority for Evatt, who only has Liam Gordon as a position-specialist.

Declan John is the man most Bolton fans want to see back in the building, although Wanderers have said in no uncertain terms that they cannot break the wage structure to bring him in.

The Bolton News:

CENTRE-BACK: A fair collection now after the recent signing of George Johnston, although his arrival does not necessarily bode well for two existing squad members.

Ryan Delaney had been the back-up to that left-sided slot for the second half of last season and has yet to sign a deal to extend his time with the club.

Reiss Greenidge is even further down the pecking order and must now wonder where the games are going to be coming from next season.

Alex Baptiste has signed for another year, which means the rock-solid partnership he formed with Ricardo Santos can go on untouched, if that is Evatt’s wish.

Younger options will also be looking to progress. Adam Senior needs a regular game after a year in the twilight zone without any development squad football and Liam Edwards simply needs to get his career back on track after an awful injury.

DEFENSIVE MIDFIELD: Not especially easy to categorise some – although MJ Williams falls on to the defensive end of the midfield spectrum and will fancy his chances of holding on to a starting spot.

Andy Tutte signed a new deal, recognising his input in and out of the team last season, but Brandon Comley has slipped a fair way out of contention to the casual observer.

New signing Josh Sheehan did play a deeper role for Newport last season and it will be interesting to see exactly where he will be pitched in Evatt’s line up.

Kieran Lee was hugely influential last season on his arrival, and George Thomason’s rise saw him voted Bolton’s young player of the season – you’d expect both to feature strongly.

The Bolton News:

ATTACKING MIDFIELD: Antoni Sarcevic had the advanced midfield spot nailed down last season, when fit, and as club skipper you can only imagine that will continue. But there is strong competition this season in the form of the returning Dennis Politic – who can play either side, but who many tip as a future number 10.

Ronan Darcy will also be desperate to push into Evatt’s thinking after knocking around on the periphery last term. He has sampled League One before and with a spot more football to be played at this level, may suit the environment more.

Ali Crawford returns to Bolton from a loan at Tranmere in a really tough spot. It is hard to see the Scot break through despite his CV showing he can more than handle the division.

WIDE POSITIONS: Lloyd Isgrove secured a new deal and is confident he can make as big an impact as he did for Barnsley a few years back as they got promotion from League One in the play-offs.

Dapo Afolayan has returned permanently to great fanfare and will also be looking to push on.

Politic could well be thrown into this mix, as will Nathan Delfouneso, who can both play across the front line. The former Blackpool man tailed off at the end of last term but always looked more effective drifting in from the left.

The Bolton News:

CENTRE FORWARD: Eoin Doyle is pretty much out alone in this position at the moment, although Delfouneso is a capable standby.

You would expect the Irishman to lead the attack after scoring 19 goals last season but after Shaun Miller’s departure in the summer, there is a clear need for direct competition.

Will Evatt look to bring in a different type of centre-forward to give him extra physicality when needed? Or will be seek a fox-in-the-box type to provide a more obvious replacement for Doyle, when needed?

Wanderers will have to push the boat out to land Declan John – but also bear in mind that effective strikers at League One level also do not come cheaply.