AFTER turning over a new sheet at Wembley, Josh Sheehan hopes to cap off a “perfect year” by securing promotion to the Championship with Wanderers on Saturday.

Denied twice in the play-off final whilst playing in the colours of Newport County, the Welsh midfielder finally tasted success in the national stadium when he helped Bolton lift the Papa Johns Trophy last season.

Ian Evatt’s side return to the stadium for the first time since their impressive win against Plymouth Argyle looking for another shot at glory – and Sheehan feels the happy memories will put them in a positive frame of mind for the game.

“I’ve been there twice with Newport in the play-offs and results didn’t quite go our way,” he said. “But going there last season with Bolton for the Papa Johns was a big thing for us, mentality-wise, for the squad and the team, because people had maybe questioned us as to whether we could do it on the big occasion.

“To do it in front of the crowd that was there that day and perform how we did shows we have it in us, and we have just got to replicate that now.”

Wanderers shook off the disappointment of missing out on an automatic promotion spot to Derby County and Portsmouth to grind out a win against Barnsley in the play-off semi-final.

For Sheehan, who was crowned the club’s player of the year, the pressure to get it right against Oxford at Wembley is unavoidable.

“It has been a good year personally, performance-wise, but if we don’t get promoted now then it will feel a bit like a wasted year for the group because it is such a strong squad,” he said.

“We know where we should be and we haven’t quite managed to do it. We have no other choice now, this is the way we have got to do it.

“If we can get promoted, I’d say it has been near enough the perfect year.”

The 29-year-old has now played more than 100 games for Wanderers but this is effectively the first full season which has not been hampered by long-term injury.

The ruptured knee ligament he suffered in November 2021 cost him valuable time at Bolton, including a pre-season, until last summer.

Sheehan says the long lay-off has given him a different perspective on the stresses and strains of the play-offs, and he is determined to enjoy the opportunity this weekend.

“Maybe people do forget that I had a bad injury which takes out almost a year of your career, which is a long time,” he told the club.

“I’d only had three months at the club when I got injured and missed all that season. The following season I missed the start when I was still in the process of rehab so I felt like I was on catch-up.

“Towards the end of last season I felt like I was getting back towards my best again and I always said to the people close around me I felt like I could get back to my best. Having a pre-season last summer and getting confidence from the end of last season to go into this one, I feel like I have been able to grow from that.

“It’s a short career and I feel like once you have had a long injury you maybe cherish it more because you have been watching a lot of football from the sides and felt a bit helpless.

“It’s hard to get your head around those type of things but once you are back in you try and enjoy every moment.”