THE terrace chant followed him up the M6 from Coventry City but few expected Amadou Bakayoko to get “20 goals” when he first turned up at Bolton.

What most Wanderers fans knew about the powerful striker had been gleaned from his previous games against the club, for Coventry City and Walsall.

At 6ft 3ins the phrase ‘target man’ was thrown around, somewhat lazily as it turns out, and Bakayoko was billed more as an alternative to the diminutive, punchier Eoin Doyle, who had led the line for the whole of the previous campaign.

Ian Evatt maintained from the off that there was more about his new signing than power and aerial ability, and that the technical side of his game was being overlooked. But to describe Bakayoko as someone who would be a regular supply of goals was pushing it a little, judging by his previous scoring history in the EFL.

“He has never played in a team which creates as many chances as we do,” argued the Bolton boss. And, in fairness, he has been proven correct.

Bakayoko is currently Bolton’s second top-scorer behind Dapo Afolayan and has 11 goals to his name, the best return in his professional career. And his haul is made all the more impressive by the fact he has missed two large chunks of the season to injury.

Managing just seven starts before the turn of the year, and taking time to get himself back to full fitness through Wanderers’ well-publicised issues with Covid at the end of 2021, the striker has maximised every moment on the pitch in the last few months.

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He averages a goal every 153.9 minutes on the pitch which, put into some degree of context, dwarfs Doyle’s return in League Two (196.1) by some distance.

It also ranks him highly among his peers in League One, something which the nay-sayers could have never predicted last summer.

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Max Watters, who started the season at MK Dons but has now moved on to Cardiff City leads the way among players who have made 10 appearances or more, and Wycombe’s hardy perennial Adebayo Akinfenwa is still returning good numbers, albeit he has played less than half Bakayoko’s overall minutes on the pitch.

Portsmouth’s Michael Jacobs has also had limited game time, in comparison, making Cheltenham Town’s Alfie May the only player with more game time than Bakayoko who can better his ratio.

One point the soon-to-be Sierra Leone international is still to make, however, is that he can be as effective as a starter for Bolton as he is an impact substitute.

No front man likes to be described as a ‘Super Sub’ but Bakayoko’s success when coming off the bench as opposed to starting games is clear to see.

Only four of his goals have been scored in the 15 games he has started, one of which was against Stockport County in the FA Cup.

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And as if to emphasise the point, Bakayoko’s best work has been done in the final stages. Only two players – Oxford United’s Cameron Branagan and Cambridge United’s Joe Ironside – have scored more goals inside the last 10 minutes of games.

The question remains, then, can Bakayoko live up to the lyrics and become a 20-goal striker?

Speaking as a Coventry player in 2019, he admitted it acts as a regular reminder.

"When I first heard it I listened to it three or four times and I thought: 'They're actually singing 20 goals, aren't they?'” he said.

"I can't remember who I was talking to, I think it was Conor [Chaplin] and he said: 'Are you going to get 20?'

"I said: 'If I get the games', but every time I hear it now I think about how I am going to have to get it at some point.

"It's a good song to have, any chant is good to hear, especially when the fans are loving it. It's very loud.”