PUTTING a full stop on the fairytale of playing for his boyhood club was not an easy choice for Zac Ashworth – but the young defender believes he is now ready to turn the page.

On the books of West Brom for more than a decade, Ashworth spent his whole childhood at the Hawthorns and briefly pushed a claim for first team football under Steve Bruce and Carlos Corberan in the Championship.

The Wales Under-21 international played a handful of times for the Baggies and had the option to stay and fight for a spot this season, knowing much of his football would be limited to the cup competitions.

A loan spell at Burton Albion whet his appetite for more last season, and having coped well with the rigours of League One, he snatched at the chance of another opportunity with Bolton – and a loan deal that could be turned permanent between now and next summer.

Ashworth made a promising start, scoring the winning goal against Barrow in the Carabao Cup on his debut, and displaying his versatility in pre-season by filling in as both a left-sided centre-back and a wing-back.

It is too soon to predict if that will lead to a permanent severing of ties with West Brom but the youngster intends to make a good case.

“I guess it is down to me to be as good as I can,” he told The Bolton News.

“At the minute I am still in touch with West Brom and the loans department, that side of it.

“There is a long season ahead and obviously it’s Bolton’s decision whether they trigger the option at any point.

“I just have to keep playing the best I can, and then hopefully everything takes care of itself.”

Even before his Burton loan, Ashworth earned a good reputation at West Brom, helping the club to success at Under-18s and 21s level, including the 2022 Premier League Cup.

The defender had to weigh up this summer, however, whether the regular football that he had enjoyed at Burton last season would be repeated. And even though some pushed for him to get more exposure at first team level, Bolton’s offer proved a gamble he was willing to take.

Asked if he was ready to move on from the Baggies, Ashworth told us: “It is a hard question to answer because I have been there from the age of five or six and my dream was always to be a West Brom player. It is the club I support and always will.

“But there comes a point where you have to decide, and this is what I have decided to do.

“I had the option to stay but ultimately you have to take risks and make big decisions, so when I heard Bolton were interested my mind was fixed on it. I know it is a risk, ultimately, but hopefully I can be here, work hard and play as many games as I possibly can in a team pushing for promotion, that’s the aim.

“Games are the most important thing for any young player and ultimately you have to sit here and think ‘where am I going to get the best chance of playing as many as I can?’ “I have nothing but love and respect for West Brom and everything they have done for me since I was a young boy. I’d never say a bad word about the club or anyone.

“It was a tough decision but I hope it is one that pays off for me.”

Ashworth was noted for being a goalscoring defender in his youth days at West Brom and was unlucky to see a spectacular goal taken from him on his Burton debut against Oxford United last season.

There was no ambiguity about his 44th minute free kick against Barrow in midweek, however, which meant he could look back and smile at the Dubious Goals Panel pinching his moment of glory.

“It was right at the end of the half and because there was a lot of bodies in the way I didn’t realise it wasn’t my goal, so I ran away giving it the big one,” he recalled – the strike eventually being credited as an own goal for keeper Simon Eastwood.

“That was my debut for Burton as well, so hopefully that is a knack I continued and this one definitely ends up under my name.”

Wanderers go to Cheltenham on Saturday looking to preserve their 100 per cent record so far this season and with Ashworth keen to be involved.

“It has been a great start so far so hopefully that can continue,” he said. “I’ve loved everything about the set-up here so far, so I’m looking forward to playing as many games as I possibly can.”