IF you are looking for goalscoring advice at Wanderers, there are worse people you could turn to than John McGinlay.

The Super Scot, top scorer in four consecutive seasons for Bolton in the nineties, was a hero to supporters in the White Hot era and for many, many years after that.

These days, young fans are just as likely to have the name of Dion Charles on the back of their shirt, with the Northern Ireland international taking on the mantle of chief goal-getter in his two-and-a-half years under Ian Evatt.

This season he became the first player since McGinlay to score 20 goals in consecutive campaigns, and speaking to The Bolton News, Charles revealed the mentoring role played by the current club ambassador in his own career with the Whites.

“I speak to him every week,” he said. “I ask him his thoughts, he was a striker, and it gives you that extra opinion on things you can change on your game. He gives me little tips and he’s brilliant around the place, I make sure I see him regularly.

“I say to him ‘I’m coming for your record’ and he’ll say: ‘You’ll never get there!’ “We have a bit of banter together, but John has been great since I have been here.”

Charles’s strike rate of around 2.4 games per goal compares quite favourably with McGinlay, who finished up with 118 to his name before he left for Bradford City in 1997.

Back in the Burnden Park days, McGinlay turned to the great Nat Lofthouse for striking advice, and to be part of that sort of lineage brings a smile to Charles’s face.

“If I can be remembered at all likes names like that, I’ll know I have done my job,” he said.

Had it not been for a knee injury picked up in February, then Charles may have a few more goals to his name as he heads to Wembley, looking to fire Bolton into the Championship.

“Thirty,” he predicted, when asked how many he would have scored with a clear run. “Well, I would have been close. I missed nine games and hadn’t scored for a couple before it, but I would have got more than 25, for sure.

“The personal accolades are all well and good but it’s a team game, I was brought here to do a job for Bolton Wanderers and that was score goals. There’s no better stage than Wembley.

“I have been happy overall this season, to have scored 20 goals back-to-back, the first since John, then I think that is a pretty good season.”

There were genuine concerns in the Bolton camp when several comeback attempts through March were abandoned, as Charles struggled to stop his knee from swelling after returning to training.

He rejected any suggestion, however, that he could have been watching the play-off final from the sidelines at Wembley.

“I would always have been back for the end of the season, no doubt about it,” he said. “It has been tough but I have to thank the medical staff here because they have been top class, and the gaffer as well, bedding me in, not just chucking me in. We bided our time a bit because it was a long time out and to come back at this important part of the season and get the chance to make an impact has been brilliant. I’d love to repay that.”

Charles’s journey to Bolton has been in no way straightforward, rejected by Blackpool and then by Fleetwood, he twice had to seek refuge in the non-league with Fylde and then Southport before finally finding some traction with Accrington Stanley.

Since linking up with Evatt in January 2022 he has not looked back, and now one shy of his 50th goal for the club, wants to his next strike to count for something under the famous arches against Oxford United.

“This will be the pinnacle of my career but I want to be a winner,” he said.

“It’s a League One play-off, a final at Wembley. And from where I was four or five years ago playing in non-league to this big stage. I look back with immense pride where I have come from and it won’t be the end. I’ll keep going.

“I want to play in the Championship. You only have to look at Ipswich. This time last year they were in League One and now they have been promoted to the Premier League.

“It shows with the willingness to get better and improve, the sky is the limit. They played nice, attractive football last year, as do we, so I think how we play can stand us in good stead if we get to the Championship.”