Why Bolton Wanderers have chosen B team instead of under-23s & how it will work explained

Ian Evatt have explained why Bolton Wanderers have opted to run a B team from next season rather than re-establishing an under-23s set-up for now.

Wanderers have chosen to develop their pathway to the first team and build upon the reserves they have adopted this season.

This team has competed in the EFL’s Central League and been run by first-team coach Sam Hird, giving younger players a competitive division to play in and allow first-team players some minutes as they make returns from injury.

READMORE: ‘Concentrate on own club’ – Ian Evatt on Bolton’s Wigan rivalry and sends Latics fans message

But this will be developed for next season at the gap between the youth groups at Wanderers and the first-team.

A decision was needed to be made as to whether Wanderers restarted an under-23s team at the club, which was discontinued in 2020, or opt for a B team like several other English sides have chosen.

Ultimately though, Wanderers have opted to go down the B team route, which the likes of Brentford, Huddersfield Town and Southampton have all gone down.

AB team manager and squad will be recruited over the summer and Evatt has given reasons as to why they have chosen this route.

He said: “We have come down on the side of running a B team next season, so we will stick with Category Three and run a B team, which will be a separate squad and group to the first team.

“We feel that is the best way to encourage the pathway and make sure there isn’t that gap between under-18s and first-team football. It gives some of our academy players a longer time to develop and learn to get themselves ready for the first team.

“That is what has been agreed and decided on, and we will be recruiting a B team manager and a whole B team squad for next season over the summer.

“To run an under-23s we would have to become a Category Two (academy) and with just the time that we have got right now, there is a lot that would have to happen for us to qualify for Category Two.

“What the B team does give us is more flexibility, it gives us the chance to not only play against academies and under-23s but also men’s fixtures as and when we see fit really.

“There is no scheduled league but there will be regular games week-on-week against different categories and caliber of opposition. It gives us that flexibility depending on how strong the group looks, and obviously we have got to recruit a whole new squad of players for that with one or two being promoted from the under-18s and one or two we are carrying now that we don’t feel are quite ready for the first team, Adam Senior is a prime example.

“There are loads of things to be positive about. The board and Sharon (Brittan) are amazing doing this and building the club. It is kind of the first step forward in what is going to be a journey hopefully.”

Wanderers have not had an under-23s side since 2020 after the club’s academy was downgraded from Category Two to Category Three.

Evatt believes the University of Bolton Stadium club are not yet ready at the moment to make that step, but that it is certainly an ambition in the future to do so and that achieving promotion to the Championship could be key in doing so.

He said: “We are not ready yet to do Category Two and under-23s yet, you have to progress to that stage. But what we are doing is taking the first step forward towards doing that and we are looking forward to it. It is going to be really exciting.

“That is the plan (to have an under-23s side again). Fundamentally we have to get ourselves back in the Championship at least, that is my job. Football clubs are funny really because they can be big businesses and there are lots of things that go into it – academy, commercial, we have got the hotel.

“But what you musn’t lose sight of is if the first team is functioning and doing well on the pitch, everything else comes off the back of that.

“It is my job to make sure that this team is still progressing, still moving forwards and still getting results. If we do that, it enables everything else to be better and to build.”


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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