GIVEN the disjointed way Xav Amaechi’s Bolton Wanderers stay has gone to date, it is easy to forget what all the fuss was about.

The former Arsenal winger was arguably the biggest investment made by the club in the summer window and his loan from Hamburg the product of months of hard work, background checks, preparation and discussion.

There was genuine celebration within the football department when Amaechi agreed to cut his own basic wage in Germany to give Bolton scope to afford the transfer.

A bright player who had been valued at more than £2million just a couple of seasons ago as one of the England Under-20 side was coming to the UniBol with a point to prove.

Four months later, he is still waiting for a chance to prove it.

The plan had been to pair him and the equally dynamic Dapo Afolayan on either wing, and though Ian Evatt and the backroom staff accepted it would take several weeks to get Amaechi back to peak fitness after so long being mothballed at Hamburg, they were convinced it would be worth the wait.

Those who watched the sun-kissed friendlies saw glimpses of what was in store from a player still way short on match sharpness but one whose movement and speed set him out from the rest.

Then, one innocuous collision against Preston North End sent Evatt’s blueprints to the shredder.

The Bolton News:

A fractured metatarsal meant months on the side-lines. Wanderers had to scramble, and pour more of their budget into recruiting Elias Kachunga – himself way short of match fitness – into the squad at short notice.

The former Huddersfield Town and Sheffield Wednesday striker offered more versatility than Amaechi and has proven a decent addition, even if he is yet to win over all his doubters on the terraces with a patchy scoring record.

But what effect the sudden shift in targets had on Evatt’s overall plan for the last window is unclear and could provide partial explanation for the lack of competition in central attack.

Amaechi disappeared into the background for several weeks but worked hard to trim down his recovery time and was back out on the training ground by the end of October way ahead of schedule.

Returning to the side in a 2-0 win against Crewe he had to wait a fortnight for his first start, marking the occasion against Cheltenham Town with a well-taken first goal for the club.

But those forecasting lift-off were to be disappointed. Another start in the Papa John’s Trophy was followed by just 46 more minutes of football by the close of 2021 where the winger looked boxed-in by the tight pitches of Fleetwood and Accrington.

Evatt announced early in December that he intended to ask Hamburg if they would allow Amaechi’s loan to be extended but there has been precious little chance to make a proper judgement on what he can offer the side thus far.

International red tape made him unavailable for the last two games – yet another frustration to add to the list – but now the recently turned 21-year-old can finally see some clear road ahead of him for the rest of the season. Future secured until May at least, he has a chance to show why Wanderers pursued him so vigorously in the summer.

In order for the next few months to be a success, Amaechi will have to cope with additional expectation. Evatt wants his front three to press more proactively and win back possession higher up the pitch, much as they were doing at the very start of the campaign.

Lloyd Isgrove – before his injury – and particularly Afolayan have shown a willingness to track back and defend but the continual chase meant some of Bolton’s most potent attacking threats were often too far from goal when they eventually won back the ball.

Issues with the two full-back positions have magnified the problem. Since the industrious Gethin Jones was injured in October the right-back berth has been somewhat of a revolving chair, and on the left, Declan John has struggled to hit top form, nor understudy Liam Gordon do enough to make the position his own.

By the time Wycombe come to the UniBol on Tuesday Evatt will have had time to work with new loan signing Marlon Fossey, plus the returning Jones, and Amaechi should be ready to go once again. The much-discussed Bolton 2.0 should be starting to form.

For Amaechi, there are four home games out of the next five to show Wanderers fans that he can be a regular starter, potentially putting himself in the shop window for the summer.

He is not quite the forgotten man of Bolton – but Amaechi will be keen to dish out a few reminders of what he has got to offer very soon.