GEORGE Thomason believes that Wanderers are ready for the Championship.

Having edged tentatively past Barnsley in the League One play-off semi-final, a Wembley date awaits on May 18 to decide who gets the third promotion spot.

Thomason admits there were some home truths told in the dressing room after Tuesday night’s brush with danger – during which Bolton nearly let a 3-1 first-leg lead slip through their grasp – but having now booked a place in the final a week on Saturday he feels the moment has come for the club to realise their target.

The midfielder has played alongside 75 different team-mates since making his senior debut for the Whites in 2020 and alongside Ricardo Santos and Gethin Jones has played in each season under Ian Evatt.

Returning to the second tier for the first time since 2019 was the club’s pre-season aim, and Thomason feels there is a determination within the squad to realise it.

“I feel we are ready to take that next step,” he said. “There are three of us who have been here since the gaffer has been in, the turnover of players, boys that have been and gone, there have been so many.

“But I think there is a good continuity in there now. We know everyone’s strengths, their weaknesses, we’re like a pack of brothers. We’ll go the extra yard.

“We might have to say things that people don’t want to hear at the time but we all know it is best for the group and best for each other, we push each other on and demand more.

“There is so much quality in the dressing room but it means nothing if we don’t work hard. That is the bare minimum.

“And we will need to do that if we are going to get the job done at Wembley.”

Wanderers have fond recent memories of the national stadium, having lifted the Papa Johns Trophy last season with a thumping 4-0 win against Plymouth Argyle.

Thomason reckons the experience will serve them well.

He said: “A lot of the boys are still here who played last season, know the occasion, know the atmosphere, the surroundings, because it is a big old ground and once it gets filled it can be overwhelming. The fact we have been there, done it, know how it feels, can only put us in good stead.”

Thousands of supporters stayed on to applaud the players’ efforts after generating one of the most memorable atmospheres in recent memory.

Thomason said he hadn’t experienced much like it in nearly five years with the club.

“It was electric, when I came in at half time and full time my ears were absolutely ringing,” he said.

“You do get caught up in the game and you don’t take it in as much but when little things happen like a shot at goal, a corner or you win a big tackle or a duel and raise the energy of the stadium you really feel it.

“The fans have been phenomenal all year long for us away from home, we just need them for one more game. I am sure they will pack Wembley out for us and hopefully it will be a memorable day.”

Thought the night did not go exactly to plan against Barnsley, Thomason reckons they did enough to shade the tie over both games.

“It is a mixed bag of emotions,” he said. “At the end of the game there was a bit of relief. It probably should have been an evening filled with joy and happiness.

“At first it felt a bit nervy and edgy but now it is sinking in a bit, I’m buzzing that we have got ourselves to Wembley and we have given ourselves a one-game shoot-out to get back to the Championship.”