EOIN Doyle has made a career out of being in the right place at the right time and Wanderers should be happy that Bolton was the final stop for him in nearly a decade in English football.

The Irishman has bid farewell to the UniBol after 18 months shouldering the goalscoring burden of a famous football club at a time when it desperately needed a hero.

List off the glittering names who have played at Bolton in the last two decades and only one has managed to score more than a dozen goals in a single campaign.

Without Doyle’s predatory instincts, Ian Evatt’s first season would certainly have ended in ignominy. Recruited as a League Two specialist goal-getter, he fulfilled the job description to a tee.

Timing is crucial in Doyle’s game – and as he prepares to head home with his family to Dublin, he does so at a time which suits both player and club.

There were questions asked about his ability to score goals in League One at the age of 33, and though his haul of eight in all competitions so far is far from a disaster, there were already signs that Wanderers were looking to a future without him as the central point of attack.

After Dion Charles’ arrival from Accrington Stanley and the strong suggestion of another striker on the way this month, Evatt has shown himself keen to evolve his team quickly, and without sentimentality.

Doyle had 18 months left on a bumper three-year deal signed last summer when he left Swindon Town as a legend. And he will leave Bolton with head held high to start a final chapter at St Patrick’s, rather than being a grape that withered on the vine.

The striker’s career in England had been a patchwork affair. Lauded in Chesterfield, where he played alongside Evatt and scored a hatful of goals, he was equally derided by those who watched him struggle at Preston North End.

Question marks did hang over his ability to play at the highest level but ask folk at Swindon and Oldham, and most will agree he was the perfect man for their club at the time.

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Even some supporters at Bradford City, whose team dropped into League One during Doyle’s time at the club, would begrudgingly agree that the Bantams did not play to his strengths, looking on with some degree of envy at his extraordinary scoring exploits at the County Ground when they took the decision to loan him out.

When his contract at Swindon in the summer of 2020, Doyle had scored 25 goals in 29 games the previous season and his stock was as high as it had been in his whole career.

Sunderland took an interest, Salford City were dead keen and Swindon understandably hoped that he would choose to stay. In the end, a chance to move closer to his Liverpool base, play a part in Bolton’s revival and, yes, become one of their top earners, was enough for Evatt to land his man.

The move was about far more than a decent pay packet, though, and it became quickly apparent when speaking to the Dubliner that he had complete respect for the size of the club and the traditions it held dear.

It took him six games to get off the mark, his first goal coming in Doncaster’s Keepmoat Stadium, where Harrogate Town had set-up temporary base. A second arrived a fortnight later in a fightback at Barrow.

The trickle soon became a regular flow and by January he was into double figures and threatening to finally usurp Michael Ricketts’ 12-goal benchmark, last set in 2002.

In one post-match interview, we listed off some of the strikers who had not managed to beat 12 goals in a season – Nicolas Anelka, Kevin Davies, Johan Elmander, Adam Le Fondre.

Doyle’s response: “That is probably the best sentence anyone has ever said to me!”

The dozen was finally eclipsed at his old club Oldham, and after that the striker chipped in with six more in the promotion run-in, including vital winners against Forest Green, Carlisle, Harrogate and Walsall.

Doyle had contributed a massive 59 per cent of Bolton’s goals for the season, a total bettered only by Paul Mullin, who had a rather freakish campaign at Cambridge United.

Wanderers had relied – some would say over-relied – on Doyle during 2020/21 but the arrival of Amadou Bakayoko in the summer was supposed to give Evatt an alternate approach up front, in a division which would boast a lot more tactical variety.

Bakayoko’s fitness issues meant Doyle again became de facto striker, playing regularly with niggling injuries because of the lack of a suitable replacement in the last few months.

Criticism followed and Evatt stepped out to defend his player on a few occasions when every miss began to get scrutinised and results began to wobble.

That is not the way Doyle deserves to be remembered as a Bolton player, though. More we should recall the memorable scenes outside the Bolton Whites Hotel as he slipped off the team bus, danced in front of the celebrating fans and ended up being carried shoulder high.

Wanderers needed a hero like that. Now they need another.

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