VERY little has been given away by Wanderers as they inch towards the opening of the summer transfer window, other than chairman Sharon Brittan’s insistence that they mean business.

Despite taking a very respectable 87 points last season, Ian Evatt’s side still fell short of their automatic promotion target by five points. And they failed to make the most of a second chance offered by the play-offs with an ignominious display at Wembley against Oxford United.

‘Change’ was instantly the word on the manager’s lips. The board have pledged a stronger playing budget and the club have instigated a “root and branch” review of all departments to see what improvements can be made to avoid disappointment next year.

June is usually the quietest time for football clubs as holidays are taken and schedules prepared before the players return at the end of the month for fitness testing.

We have decided to break down the Bolton squad, position by position, to see which areas may need to be strengthened next season – and suggested a few players in the market, or who may have been of interest in recent years.

The Bolton News: Nathan Baxter will go into next season as Wanderers' number one choice in goal. Picture: Camerasport


Sharon Brittan said recently that if Baxter had not been injured against Barnsley in February, then making an ill-advised attempt to continue in the abandoned game at Cambridge United, then Bolton would have won promotion. It is hard to argue with that logic, knowing how shaky the defensive unit appeared in the weeks that followed.

Baxter will definitely be Wanderers’ number one next season provided they can keep hold of him. Even allowing for the 13-game absence at the start of the year he has become one of the club’s most valuable, and dare we say it, saleable assets.

Only two other goalkeepers in the division matched his save percentage ratio of 74.4 per cent last season – Joe Wildsmith (74.5) was promoted with Portsmouth, and former Bolton loanee Lukas Jensen (78.0) really excelled at Lincoln City.

He will probably be disappointed with keeping just 14 clean sheets in a season where Bolton’s defensive resolve never quite matched that of the season before but his clean sheet percentage of 42.4 was still the third highest in League One, behind Pompey’s Wildsmith (47.5) and Stevenage’s Taye Ashby-Hammond (51.6).

Baxter was not hugely over-worked, especially in the early part of the season. He faced 117 shots on target in his 33 league games, at an average rate of 3.54 per match.

It should come as no surprise, however, that he was one of the division’s busiest goalkeepers with his feet, making more accurate ‘short passes’ than anyone else in the division (881).

The Bolton News: Joel Coleman found his feet after a 13-game run in the first teamJoel Coleman found his feet after a 13-game run in the first team (Image: Camerasport)


Had made half a dozen appearances in the cup competitions before being put in for the injured Baxter at Northampton Town on February 10 – but his lack of regular football over the past couple of seasons really made life difficult in those opening weeks.

The Boltonian had not worked regularly with his back three and that led to some questionable decision-making in what was a rocky patch of form for the team as a whole.

During Baxter’s absence Wanderers won five, drew five and lost three of their league games, keeping three clean sheets (23.1 per cent).

Coleman faced 49 shots on target during his run in the side, at an average of 3.77 per game, and emerged with a save percentage of 67.3, which placed him 23rd out of the goalkeepers who had also played 13 or more games in the division.

The Bolton News: Luke Hutchinson was twice called back from good loan spells because of injuries to senior keepersLuke Hutchinson was twice called back from good loan spells because of injuries to senior keepers (Image: Camerasport)


Another season of loans and learning for the 21-year-old, who has rightly been picked up for another year.

Had a promising spell at Marine cut short when he was called back by Wanderers for cover after Baxter’s injury. He had shown some glimpses of class on Merseyside and seemed to be enjoying his time in National League North.

Hutchinson also had a spell at Hyde end prematurely after Coleman picked up an injury in September.

The youngster has been named on the first team bench a few times, which suggests a level of trust, and both of his senior colleagues have talked highly about his potential.

The B Team has also offered semi-regular games but Hutchinson would surely benefit from a longer loan run at senior level, so Bolton can truly gauge what he is capable of in the future?


Nathan Baxter has a firm grip as Bolton’s number one, but Joel Coleman’s inconsistent run between February and April in his absence is sure to have got Ian Evatt and Co thinking.

While it is true, the former Huddersfield Town man stabilised his form eventually, and was far from the only player to look shaky at the time, Wanderers can afford to leave nothing to chance if they are to double down on automatic promotion this time around.

Would the addition of a ‘third’ senior keeper make sense? It would allow Evatt to rest Baxter and still have choices in the cup competitions, whilst also allowing Hutchinson to get a solid season under his belt out on loan in the National League, or National League North.

Ellis Litherland-Riding has been retained by the B Team, where Evatt may even decide to give Coleman a few more games to keep him fresher when called upon.

The Bolton News: Boltonian Louie Moulden is available on a free transfer after his release at WolvesBoltonian Louie Moulden is available on a free transfer after his release at Wolves (Image: PA)


Just for fun, let’s look at some of the goalkeepers who would be on our shortlist.

Louie Moulden has already been mentioned as a possible signing. The Bolton-born keeper is brother of kit man Ted Moulden and son of ex-Manchester City striker, Paul Moulden, and spent last season on loan with Northampton Town at this level.

He has 86 career games to his name at the age of 22, so whether he would be content to play understudy to Baxter remains to be seen. The link is certainly a plausible one, though, and he would certainly be a popular addition to the squad.

Elsewhere there is a scramble on for Marko Marosi, who has left Shrewsbury and has regularly been linked with Bolton down the years. The likes of Wrexham and Rotherham United have been linked but he is another senior player in his mid-twenties who will want regular first team football.

There are a couple of familiar faces in the Championship free agents list this summer including Middlesbrough’s Liam Roberts, who spent last season at Barnsley, and Plymouth Argyle’s Callum Burton, who played against Bolton at Wembley in 2023.

Toby Savin is another name who could be of interest. The Accrington keeper is now out of contract at the League Two club, has more than 100 career games at the age of 23, and was linked with Bolton last summer as they searched for a replacement for James Trafford and Joel Dixon.

All stats used in this article are attributed to FBRef, and FutMob.