FORM, they say in football, is a temporary thing. But class is permanent.

Dion Charles has 17 club goals to his name in all competitions this season, and with 17 games left to play it would be a peculiar thing indeed if he did not become the first Wanderers player in 30 years to hit the 20-mark in successive campaigns.

John McGinlay was the last to manage it, and the Scottish legend was in the press box on Saturday to watch the heir apparent to his goalscoring throne struggle at Sixfields.

Three touches inside the penalty box, one early shot, and a fruitless hour spent chasing defenders and shutting down space equated to another frustrating afternoon for the Northern Ireland international – now six league games without a goal.

Although Charles did score against Luton Town in the FA Cup, his current barren league run is the longest since his very first season with Bolton, which ended with a dozen-games without a goal between February 19 and April 30, 2022. But whereas Wanderers had little option but to leave Charles out there on the pitch to alter his own fortunes a couple of years ago, the depth of their attacking options is now much deeper.

The January addition of Aaron Collins for £750,000 from Bristol Rovers alongside Jon Dadi Bodvarsson, Cameron Jerome and Saturday’s goal hero Carlos Mendes Gomes all give Ian Evatt plenty to consider as he picks a side to face Wycombe Wanderers on Tuesday night.

Charles’s strike partner for much of the season, Victor Adeboyejo, had an even tougher day at Northampton, totalling just six touches of the ball. Measuring league games alone, his last shot at goal of any kind was the winner he supplied against Cheltenham Town in the 24th minute of their rescheduled match at the Toughsheet on January 23.

The partnership, who lest we forget has combined to score 25 times this season, has not been firing at its finest, and that places intense focus on whether Evatt keeps faith, allowing the pair to iron out the kinks, or swaps things around entirely.

Either side of the postponed game at Cambridge, Wanderers have put in two performances against Barnsley and Northampton which gained two points but seemed to split opinion on their overall quality.

While both showed a measure of character – Collins coming on to create a wonderful equaliser for Zac Ashworth against the Tykes, and Mendes Gomes showing invention to peg back the Cobblers – early goals conceded in each match have made life difficult.

There have been changes at the back, with both captain Ricardo Santos and keeper Nathan Baxter picking up injuries, providing some partial explanation. But Wanderers will not want to make that a habit, particularly as it goes against the trend of the campaign overall.

Until the 1-1 draw with Barnsley, Evatt’s side had conceded just twice in the opening 15 minutes – a record that could only be matched by Portsmouth and bettered by Carlisle United (one).

Wycombe’s Achillies Heel this season has been conceding late goals, including two against Wanderers when the two sides met back in October.

No team in League One has conceded more than the 17 goals leaked by the Chairboys between the 80th and 90th minute, suggesting their concentration does deteriorate, and that an early exit to the Toughsheet Stadium car park might be ill-advised.

Wanderers remain just in front of their two-points-per-game target despite failing to win in their last two, and like Charles, it is reassuring to pan the camera back and put their recent form in some context.

If you look at the form table in League One over the last four matches, Bolton are placed third, having won two and lost two, extend it to sixth and they are sixth (11 points out of 18). In the last eight games they are second (17 points from a possible 24) and in the last 10 games they are also placed second, behind Barnsley, taking 20 points from a possible 30.

No team other than Bolton appears in the top six for form tables over four, six, eight and 10 matches, which provides a small measure of solace as the season inches towards the final third.

A frenetic February schedule is only halfway through, with five games left to play. By the time Evatt and his team walk off the pitch at Wigan Athletic in a fortnight there will be just a dozen matches left to play and the path to automatic promotion will be that bit more defined.

For Charles, a reminder of that goalscoring class would be very well timed indeed.