George Thomason was learning his trade at Longridge in the non-league pyramid five years ago. Now he is a key member of the Bolton squad battling to reach the Championship.

It has been quite the journey for the midfielder, but what is his secret? The answer is pretty straightforward.

“I think it just about being a sponge really, taking on lots of information,” he said, thoughtfully.

“It is just about being dedicated, whether that is on the pitch or off it. Looking at your own game is a massive part of it, and sometimes being your own critic.

“I think you just have to look at yourself in the mirror and look at all the one per cents that you can improve on.

“That is not always down to what you do on the pitch and what people see. The Saturday afternoons and Tuesday evenings are the performances that everyone gets to see, but it is all the other days of hard work that no-one really gets to see.

“That is what is has all been about really – doing the work behind the scenes that doesn’t really get highlighted. That ultimately adds up and allows you to have steady progression.”

Thomason, along with Ricardo Santos and Gethin Jones, is one of the only players remaining from Ian Evatt’s first Bolton squad.

The trio have witnessed first-hand how much the club has changed and evolved, on and off the pitch, over the past few years.

“It has been brilliant,” Thomason reflected. “Season upon season, we recruited really well and the manager has implemented so many styles and different ideas into us.

“Some of the things we do in training and on the pitch are really high-level stuff. He always says, ‘It is OK being able to do it at this level but we want to look at how we can be effective at the next level’.

“That is not us being arrogant, that is a natural evolution because we are ambitions and we want the best for ourselves and the club.

“If we can keep implementing his plans and ideas then we will be successful.”

The midfielder missed the win at Carlisle through suspension and is also unavailable for Saturday’s clash with Barnsley.

However, Thomason could be involved against Blackpool tonight. He scored the winner when the sides met in November, beating Daniel Grimshaw with a thumping strike from 20 yards.

It was a special moment for the youngster, who was once on the Seasiders’ books, and he is keen to add more goals to his game.

“I like to think I am a bit of an old-fashioned central midfielder – I like to be all action at both ends of the pitch,” he smiled.

“I don’t like to be stuck in one position, I like to be involved as much as I possibly can be.

“Adding more goals and assists in the final third is something that has frustrated me over the past year or so and thankfully it has started to pay off more. But there is definitely more I want to add and contribute to the side.”