TO say that Dapo Afolayan has been in the thick of the action for Wanderers would be the understatement of the season.

No player in League One has had more shots at goal, nobody has had more shots blocked, or been fouled more often.

Afolayan leads the Wanderers scoring charts with seven goals – his best return since leaving non-league football with Solihull Moors – and has enhanced his reputation with a string of headline-grabbing performances since the club’s promotion to League One.

A dozen games into the season, however, the winger is no longer a surprise package. Ian Evatt has noted on a few occasions that Afolayan has received closer attention from defenders, double or triple marking, to stifle his effectiveness.

Despite all that, the former West Ham man has still managed to put five shots on goal in each of his last three games – more than any other player on the pitch on each occasion.

Wanderers have seen an abnormally high number of their shots on goal come from the left side (26 per cent), compared with just 17 per cent from the right. And set against their rivals in League One, only Gillingham and Crewe have registered lower numbers from the middle of goal.

That is even more pronounced when you consider Bolton’s possession tends to be heavily weighted to the right flank, where 45 per cent of their attacks have emanated this season, compared to 32 per cent from the left. In fact, only Saturday’s opponents Wigan have more of an imbalance (47 per cent compared to 30 on the left).

That ‘Afolayan bias’ is a good indicator as to how important he has become to Evatt’s side in an attacking sense, and just how dangerous he has become with the possession he is given.

Eoin Doyle’s struggles in front of goal since the 5-2 romp against Ipswich Town have probably magnified Afolayan’s importance to the cause but at Sheffield Wednesday last weekend Wanderers’ own momentum seemed to fade in the second half along with that of their talismanic wide man.

Frustration over a succession of refereeing decisions – including one to caution him for diving – led to Afolayan cutting a frustrated figure at Hillsborough by the final whistle. Wanderers’ right flank has undoubtedly been busy this season, with hard-working full-back Gethin Jones usually towards the top of the possession statistics. Although the two centre-halves tend to see more of the ball than anyone else, there has been a clear pattern in the first 11 games to show how important Jones has become in carrying the ball forward.

That balanced out a little on Saturday, where Declan John saw more of the ball than he has at any other stage of the season, but Jones still had 71 touches – double that of several Sheffield Wednesday players on the day.

Jones will be suspended for this weekend’s game against Wigan, so it could be interesting to see if the dynamic changes with Harry Brockbank in the side.

While Afolayan’s goal record shows he has been rather efficient with the possession he receives, Bolton’s attacking potency still seems a little lop-sided.

Elias Kachunga has started the previous three league games on the right side of Evatt’s attack but has managed just a single shot on goal in each of his appearances and is yet to score.

Lloyd Isgrove has managed a few attempts on goal than Kachunga in the games he has started – the last being Sunderland away – but he too has yet to register a goal.

Amaechi has not yet kicked a ball competitively for Bolton but posted on social media this week that he had taken another significant step forward in his rehabilitation from a broken metatarsal, returning to light training duties.

The club hope to have him back available for early November and Evatt has also talked about the possibility of extending his loan from Hamburg to the end of the season, giving him a chance to get up to full fitness and show some of the precocious talent which earned him a big money move from Arsenal to Germany as a teenager.

This Premium Article is currently free to read.

Get unlimited access to all our Wanderers coverage - including exclusive podcasts, columns, video streams and matchday extras by subscribing to The Bolton News HERE