IT should come as no surprise to anyone who has watched Dion Charles playing for Wanderers over the last 12 months that admiring glances should be cast in his direction during the January transfer window.

The Northern Ireland international has just completed a calendar year in which he scored 27 goals, the best managed by any Bolton striker in the same timeframe since John McGinlay was ripping it up at Burnden Park in 1994.

He is currently two behind Blackpool’s Jordan Rhodes and Charlton’s Alfie May in the race for League One’s Golden Boot, scoring at a rate of one every 142 minutes, and is easily on course to hit the 20-goal mark for the third time in the last four seasons at this level.

Inside the training ground gates, Wanderers staff are equally impressed with the way his all-round game has progressed since he signed from Accrington Stanley for £320,000, and as a player who arrived late to full-time football, the fact he is 28 years of age is incidental.

Signed up to a new contract in the summer and talking positively about etching his name among the very best goal-scorers in Bolton’s illustrious history, it is little wonder the Charles and the club have gone into the January window in such a relaxed mood.

Wanderers know a string of Championship sides have watched their striking talisman in action – Watford and Stoke City regular visitors at the end of this season. More recently, Hull City and Swansea City have run their eye over him – and potentially others – during last month’s stormy game at Fleetwood. But the club has talked confidently about keeping their squad together this month to maximise their chances of a promotion push and it would be a shock if anything but an outlandish bid for a proven goal-getter was even entertained.

Wanderers linked with loan move for Luton Town striker.

Reports in Northern Ireland at the weekend suggested a whopping £5m would be needed to tempt the Whites – and such a fee would surely give them something to think about, assuming that is that anyone in the frame had pockets that deep.

Ian Evatt has always been upfront about the idea of player trading. Finding a player with the boundless energy and work-rate of Charles who can also score goals is not a simple task, even with money to spend, but the club would have to be pragmatic if someone were to break the bank.

Thankfully, there are plans in place for such an eventuality. Through November and December Evatt and his recruitment chief Chris Markham have worked on a provisional shortlist of players who could be available in January if Bolton had to move fast.

Alternatives to Charles, George Thomason, Josh Sheehan, Ricardo Santos, Eoin Toal – any of the players whose form has put them on the radar of Championship clubs – have all been identified, just in case.

Wanderers fans will need no reminder of previous January windows in which their prized striker assets have been sold off without a suitable replacement sought. Nicolas Anelka, Zach Clough, Gary Madine, all examples where money talked, but timing left Bolton in the lurch.

There has been no sign so far that fans need to worry. Evatt said last week that he was “quietly confident” that his grip on players like Charles would not be tested.

And as he found out with Bristol City and George Thomason in the summer, even an accepted bid does not necessarily guarantee a move.

Evatt has a happy and stable squad, built over three seasons in League One, all of whom have Championship football on their immediate agenda. There is pressure to meet that target this season, which would also inform any decision were a concrete bid to arrive.

If Bolton failed in their effort to get promotion, the summer months could be trickier as the club comes to terms with another year in the third tier. But for now, there is a good reason for the confident vibes coming from the Toughsheet Stadium, and Evatt is not the only one who is quietly confident his squad will remain intact, for the time being at least.