FROM Aaron Ramsdale to Nat Phillips, Aaron Mooy to David Brooks, recent history has been littered with examples of players who were released at Bolton before making the senior grade, only to prove them wrong further down the line.

Measuring football talent at a tender age has never been an exact science, and most top players can tell a sob story or two about a club which broke their heart as a teenager.

Kevin Nolan was released by Liverpool at 14, Kevin Davies by Sheffield United at 15, a seven-year-old Adam Le Fondre brought to tears by Manchester United after being told he was too lazy.

By the time a player reaches their twenties, however, releasing talent which then comes back to haunt you is entirely less forgivable, hence the collective intake of breath when Ian Evatt announced yesterday that Dennis Politic has probably played his last game for the club.

The Bolton News:

Loaned out to League Two Port Vale in the summer window, there had been a clamour for Politic to be recalled this month to add some sparkle to an attack which has failed to fire consistently.

But the winger did not leave on great terms, refusing to sign a contract extension offered to him on his departure. Recent attempts to reconcile have been unsuccessful, leading to Evatt’s no-nonsense reply in Thursday afternoon’s press conference.

“No, we’ll not be recalling Dennis,” he answered. “We have other targets, we have other forward options and we offered Dennis a contract, he didn’t sign the contract so we’ve drawn a line under that one and we’ll move on.”

The contract snub hit particularly hard at Wanderers, as the club had nursed Politic through a nasty cruciate ligament injury sustained in a pre-season friendly at Loughborough in July 2020.

The physical impact of 12 months out of the game led to discussions about a loan, with Evatt unable to promise him enough regular first team football to get him back into top shape.

All seemed hunky dory up to the week he left for the Potteries. Bolton had been confident both Politic and Ronan Darcy – who was destined for Norwegian side Sogndal – would sign and return to the club with a better chance of competing for a spot in the team.

But within a couple of weeks, Evatt’s flat, monosyllabic responses to requests for updates on Politic’s situation made it perfectly clear that all was not right.

A fair number of supporters feel Bolton made a mistake not keeping the Romania-born playmakers under their own umbrella, as they did with former development squad team-mates Harry Brockbank and Adam Senior.

Politic is of the more unique talents to have passed through the Wanderers academy in recent years, although it must also be noted that he would never have kicked a ball at Lostock had he not been released by United at 15, three years after arriving in the country with his family from Brasov.

His knack for the spectacular caught the eye, as did an athletic frame which set him apart from some of his peers in the age group. And after he had helped David Lee’s development squad win the league in 2017, Politic was tested in senior football for the first time, going out on loan to then-Conference side, Salford City.

Injury curtailed his stay at Moor Lane but he had shown enough to suggest he could hack it with the grown-ups and Phil Parkinson brought him into the first team training ground at Bolton, insisting he had a chance of making the grade.

The Bolton News:

Fans will need little reminder of what happened next. As the financial condition of the club nosedived under the ownership of Ken Anderson, the majority of coaching staff and senior players became completely alienated. By the time the 2019/20 season began, Wanderers had been placed into administration and had just six professional players on the books.

Politic was one of the ‘Junior Whites’ who fought for a point against Coventry City and played out the opening month of the season on a hiding to nothing.

When Football Ventures completed their takeover, he was one of a handful of homegrown players retained in the first team squad by the new owners’ first managerial appointment, Keith Hill, and signed his current contract in January 2020.

Politic started 23 games that season and netted five goals. But he finished on the winning side just once, scoring against Tranmere.

After the pandemic hit and Bolton were relegated to League Two, Evatt initially seemed keen to push Politic as a first team option. But when the injury left him an onlooker in the promotion campaign, it seemed harder to see where he would fit in the longer term.

Everyone said the right things when he came back in pre-season, how it would take time, how we should not expect too much, too soon. Realistically, Evatt and his staff had worked with Politic at close quarters in training for months and simply did not see him playing regularly.

The loan to Port Vale has had its successful moments, a goal on debut against Leyton Orient, a headline-grabbing cameo at Burton in the FA Cup. But at time of writing, Politic has started just five league games for Darrell Clarke’s side and has only recently started to string games together after minor injuries.

Including substitute appearances, Politic has played 45 games in the EFL and its knockout competitions and though he can point to a whole season of his career being missed through injury, Bolton’s new midfield signing Aaron Morley – just six days younger – can count 121 games on his CV.

The young man is still in his career infancy and given his only full season in league football has been played in a team topping uncontrollably to relegation.

Make no mistake about it, there are plenty of Bolton supporters who believe Evatt and his staff are foolish not to recall Politic, or to “move on” in the summer. Only time will tell if they have an opportunity to say: ‘I told you so’.