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In opposition: Bolton Wanderers - ones to watch

22 November 2021

Bolton Wanderers are a team that like to share out the goals but some long-term injuries to key forward players have thinned the options.

Seven players have two or more goals scored in the campaign for the Trotters, including prolific midfielder Oladapo Afolayan with a team-leading seven.

Prominent players like Josh Sheehan, Amadou Bakayoko and MJ Williams suffering recent injuries that will keep them off the team sheet for at least two months, Ian Evatt and his staff are looking for someone to step up and take over the scoring duties for the club.

Oladapo Afolayan

Oladapo Afolayan signed a permanent contract with Bolton in July 2021, after spending the back half of the 2020/21 campaign with the Trotters on loan from parent club West Ham United.

Since linking up with Bolton in February 2021, the Harrow-born Afolayan has netted eight goals in 39 appearances for the club. He scored his first goal for the Trotters last season in Bolton’s 4-1 win over Crawley Town, a win that secured the club promotion from Sky Bet League Two.

Afolayan leads the Trotters goal scoring with seven and has been named the club’s Player of the Month for August and September. Despite playing for the England C team on the international level in 2017, he recently said he would consider playing for Nigeria if called upon.

He began his senior career in Canada, before returning to England joining renowned sporting institution Loughborough University (2016-17), where he was studying to earn a degree in civil engineering. He signed his first professional contract in England in February 2017 putting pen to paper at Solihull Moors.

He spent one season there scoring five goals in the Motorama National League before being snapped up by West Ham in 2018. He struggled to break through at the London giants.

This season, as well as a key goal threat, he owns a 31.6% shots on target average, adding 1.21 shots on target per game. He leads the team with 33 crosses into the box, adding to his 65 fouls drawn (team-high) and 27 tackles won (team-high).

 

Elias Kachunga

German-born Elias Kachunga signed with Bolton Wanderers in August 2021, arriving to the University of Bolton Stadium after a one-year spell with Sheffield Wednesday.

He quickly made a name for himself at the Trotters, providing an assist to rescue a 3-3 draw for the club in his debut as a substitute against MK Dons. The forward, who can also play in the midfield, has netted a pair of goals this season, the first coming in a 2-2 draw with Stockport County in an Emirates FA Cup first round match. Kachunga, born in Haan to a Congolese father and German mother, spent the early part of his senior career in his home country with Borussia Mönchengladbach (2010-14), where he featured twice for the first team and spent most of his time with the second team.

He also spent loan spells with VFL Osnabrück, both Hertha BSC and Hertha BSC II and Padeborn. He made a permanent move to SC Paderborn in 2013, spending two years with the club and scoring 12 times in 55 appearances, before then moving to Ingolstadt in 2015.

His first action in England came on a loan spell with Huddersfield in 2016-17, where he featured 42 times and scored 12 goals for the club. He signed a free transfer to join Sheffield Wednesday in September 2020, eventually leaving the club for Bolton Wanderers as the end of his contract.

This season, Kachunga has scored two goals, while being a provider on two more goals. He has one of the best averages on the team in shots on target with 44.4% ratio with eight shots on target on 18 total attempts. He owns a 0.11 goals per game average as well. Internationally, Kachunga started out with the German U19 and U21 sides, before switching to represent the DR Congo in 2017, where he debuted for the club in a 2-1 friendly loss to Kenya.

 

Kieran Lee

Midfielder Kieran Lee provides the assists for the Trotters, as he signed to join Bolton Wanderers in January 2021, inking an initial 18-month contract with the Trotters.

Earlier this month, he extended his contract to keep him at the University of Bolton Stadium until 2023. Lee began his professional career with Manchester United, but was used mostly as a defensive back rather than his natural midfield position. He originally signed with the club as a YT in 2004.

He signed his professional contract with the Reds in 2006, later making a loan move to Queens Park Rangers in 2008. The majority of his senior career has been served with both Oldham Athletic and Sheffield Wednesday. He moved to Oldham Athletic in 2008, spending four years with the club until 2012, scoring five goals and playing in over 110 matches with the club. In his time with the club, he was a recipient of the Latics’ Players’ Player of the Year award, Fans’ Player of the Year, Boundary Blues and Oldham Athletic Supporters Association awards.

He later spent eight seasons (2012-20) with Sheffield Wednesday, appearing in more than 180 games and scoring 20 goals for the club in that span. This season, he has scored three goals and provided a team-high five assists, averaging 0.22 goals per game in the campaign.

He has delivered 16 crosses into the box, as well as registering 13 interceptions and 19 tackles. This adds to his 38.5% shots on target average for the season, recording 0.97 shots per game with a 0.60 goals per shots on target average.

Ricardo Santos

A native of Almada, Portugal, Ricardo Alexandre Almeida Santos serves as captain for Bolton Wanderers.

Santos arrived at the University of Bolton Stadium on an initial two-year deal in August 2020, after spending three years at Barnet. Santos netted six goals for the London club in 84 appearances.

He began his professional career with Dagenham & Redbridge in 2012, making just a single appearance in the first team squad. He would move to Thurrock in 2013, where he stayed until moving to Peterborough United in 2014.

He played 63 games for Posh across two seasons before making the move to the Barnet. In May 2021, Santos was named Bolton Wanderers’ Player of the Year, while also being recognized to the Sky Bet League Two Team of the Year alongside teammate Eoin Doyle.

This season in his defensive duty he has a team-high 25 tackles won and 24 interceptions.


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