Bolton star trans­formed in mid­field

The Football League Paper - - TFLP - By David Bates

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.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

HOT TO TROT: Bolton’s Josh Vela is en­joy­ing the move to mid­field

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