VELA REPAYS FAITH
Bolton star transformed in midfield
JOSH VELA may be hot property, but the midfielder says he will remain loyal to Bolton Wanderers – even if they fail to clinch an immediate return to the Championship.
Speculation was rife that the talented 22-year-old would leave in the summer, but, with Phil Parkinson leading the Trotters to their equal best start to a league season in 82 years, Vela is staying put.
Out of position at rightback under Neil Lennon, he was courted by Cardiff City, before Wigan tried to take him to the DW Stadium.
Parkinson kept his man and, after shifting Vela back into midfield, watched the Salford-born star flourish, scoring the goal against Fleetwood Town which sealed an historic unbeaten start to the season.
Further wins over Sheffield United, AFC Wimbledon and Bristol Rovers ensured Bolton started their League One campaign with a bang and, though their form has cooled with a series of draws, Vela won’t be distracted from helping his boyhood club get back up.
“I want to stay and help the club get back to the Premier League if possible,” he explained. “I’m comfortable and happy here at the moment.
“I would stick around until we got back up again. I owe the club that because we got relegated last year. I have been here since I was eight. The family are Manchester United fans, but I have known nothing different.
“Phil has been very positive about the club. I have had a few chats with him and he wants me to stay and I want to stay.
“We had a bad (last) season, but Phil has come in and been very positive and we have had a decent start.”
Though Vela says he was never particularly fazed by Lennon’s decision to line him up at the back, he is looking more comfortable under Parkinson’s guidance.
The former Bradford boss deployed him where he belongs – at the heart of Bolton’s midfield – offering him the chance to perform consistently.
“Phil has been a breath of fresh air,” said Vela. “He tells us to enjoy ourselves, express ourselves and I get on well with him.
“Though I wasn’t too bothered about playing right-back, I didn’t feel I could show what I was capable of every week. I have already got a couple of goals this season and hopefully I can score a few more.
“Midfield is my natural position and I feel I’m finally showing what I can do on a week-to-week basis.”
Bolton infamously waited 495 days for a win on the road before they beat Wimbledon 2-1 and Vela feels it kick-started their League One title charge.
“Everyone here is focused on winning League One – automatic promotion at the very least,” Vela said.
“We have good strength in depth and we should be looking to get out of this division.
“It was important we got off to a good start. The last thing we wanted was to get stuck in a rut, like last year, losing every week.
“We have a bit of momentum now.”
HOT TO TROT: Bolton’s Josh Vela is enjoying the move to midfield