GIVEN his first season at Bolton Wanderers has included a best-ever goal haul, an international debut and a goal for his country, you might be surprised to learn that Amadou Bakayoko still feels a little short-changed.

While there have been some landmark moments for the 26-year-old since he moved to the North West from Coventry City, he is adamant that the fans now singing his name at every opportunity have not yet seen his full potential.

Bakayoko has now won a new army of admirers after scoring for Sierra Leone on Sunday and faces the prospect of spearheading his country’s attack in the upcoming AFCON qualifiers.

But back on club soil the big striker still feels he has more to show the Bolton supporters after a season in which his own success has been stunted by injuries.

“It started off in a frustrating way because I was going really well, personally, but then it all just stopped,” he told The Bolton News. “By the time I came back the team were doing well, so I just had to sit and wait a bit.

“I am happy with how it has gone. I was talking to my dad about it, he says I should be pleased with what I have done this season - but I feel like I can do a lot more.

“I can’t let this be a one-season thing, I want it to continue. That is my aim now.

“It is always within yourself to do more and push on and that is what I want to do.”

Wanderers have not had two players top 12 goals in the same season since Michael Ricketts and Dean Holdsworth shared 39 between them in the old First Division at the turn of the millennium.

Some 21 years later, Bakayoko – poised on 11 – and Dapo Afolayan – with 13 – comprise a pair that few may have picked out as Bolton’s bankable source of goals last summer.

Only once before had ‘Baka’ managed double figures, and his goal against MK Dons on his Bolton debut was his first for 18 months.

His signing and relatively low scoring ratio as a Coventry player was greeted with caution by parts of the fanbase, with others content to see Ian Evatt adding a ‘target man’ to his rather slender attack. In the end, neither camp was proven especially correct.

Bakayoko has had to rail against stereotype but feels supporters are now starting to appreciate what he can bring to the team.

“In front of goal this has been my best one but looking back I have been proud of what I have put in for previous clubs,” he said. “I didn’t score as many in the promotion season at Coventry but I felt good, felt I was improving.

“This is up there. The way the gaffer has set his team up, the importance you feel to the whole thing, it has really given me a boost and some energy.

“I think that is the thing with confidence, it can take you a couple of seasons to really get into it.

“People tend to judge you in certain ways as a big striker but if you watch the training sessions and things that people don’t see, you’d realise I can do the things everyone else can, good with my feet.

“I know you play to strengths at times and get wins in different ways.”

Bakayoko – like any striker worth his salt - also prickles when described as a ‘super sub’. While it is true that he has scored more goals from the bench than anyone else in League One this season, and that his goals-to-minute ratio is among the top five in the division, it is not a badge he is about to get printed to sell in the club shop.

“Through the last couple of seasons it has been a case of coming off the bench and scoring goals, and that has been the case at the last club I was at too,” he said. “It becomes a thing and people pick up on it.

“But I know there is a lot more in me. I want to be a main player – just like any of the strikers here – and that is when the team does well, when we all want to be number one.

“You get the best out of people when they compete. Ideally you start every single game but there are times when you have to bite your tongue and get on with the job and I think we have shown we can do that.

“When you come on you have to make sure you are scoring those important goals.”

That he has been limited to 31 appearances this season was down to calf and hamstring injuries in the first half of the season which left him unable to string more than two starts together at once.

A hamstring tear in the FA Cup game against Stockport County in November had a particularly profound effect on the striker, who admits that he did not feel himself for months afterwards – even as he collected individual awards in February.

“I felt really good at the start and my confidence was high even though I was playing out of my normal position, the gaffer wanted me there and I was happy to do it,” he explained.

“When the injury came along I had to take a step back. I think I have the mentality to push on, do the right things, and it came back in the end.

“February was strange. I didn’t play as well, I don’t feel, as I did at the start of the season but things just seemed to happen for me.

“I had a little bit in the back of my mind about the injury, I think, and it happened for a couple of weeks. Jumping and winning headers is normally something I enjoy doing but when I came back I took my foot off the gas a bit.

“It came back and I think I am getting there now.”

If nothing else, Bakayoko will take one fond memory from 2021/22.

His emotional 100th minute equaliser in the wind and rain at Morecambe sparked joyous scenes among the Wanderers supporters and will not be a goal grows tired of watching back.

“I seem to have that one big moment in every season,” he smiled.

“At Coventry it was against Charlton, I came on and scored two, and that Morecambe one was another one I’ll never forget. I can watch that back at any time, any moment and still feel the same about it.”