Ian Evatt says Dennis Politic has not played enough during his time on loan at Port Vale to consider recalling him in January.
The Bolton boss insists the 21-year-old attacker has a future at Wanderers – if he wants it – but feels neither the club, nor the player would benefit from him returning to the UniBol next month.
Politic has featured seven times for Port Vale in League Two, with another five appearances in the knockout competitions, playing a total of 607 minutes.
His two goals against Burton Albion at the weekend helped Vale secure a third-round tie at home to Premier League Brentford but Evatt says it has not changed his opinion.
“The best thing for Dennis is to play regular football and unfortunately for us and for Port Vale he hasn’t done that,” he told The Bolton News.
“Football is an emotional game, I understand that, and people’s moods and decision making can be affected week-to-week based on what happens on a Saturday.
“But as a manager you can’t be short-sighted, you just can’t. It’s brilliant that Dennis scored twice in the FA Cup but not so brilliant that he hasn’t played enough. And it is up to him to get his way into Port Vale’s team and do what he needs to do if he is going to come back to Bolton and get in our team. It is that simple.
“Dennis is a very talented young player but he has to be playing regular football. At the time we couldn’t offer him that and at the moment he is not getting that at Port Vale.
“He is a great lad and he has got a great attitude. I know he will be champing at the bit to get more games and doing everything he can in training to do so but that should be his focus, to play regular football.”
The chief concern for most Wanderers fans is that Politic, who started in Bolton’s academy at the age of 15, is out of contract in the summer.
The offer of an extended deal still stands – although negotiation looks like it will have to wait for the end of the season, with Evatt now plotting to improve his midfield and attacking options in the transfer market next month.
“We offered Dennis a contract and he hasn’t signed it,” the manager said.
“I wish I could reveal all to supporters and tell you all of my transfer plans in January, who we are looking at, and who we are trying to sign. I guess then it would be a different conversation.
“But for now the only focus – for Dennis and for us – is that he plays regular first team football. Ten or 15 minutes here and there is not enough. He needs to get himself into the team and he has gone a long way into doing that by scoring two on Saturday, by the way, which is good for him.
“Play regular games, get his confidence and his fitness back. He has had injury issues while he has been away, and then we can re-evaluate. For now, though, there is nothing we can do in December, the window is another month away. A lot can happen.”
Evatt has underlined, however, that he is not writing off Politic’s chances of returning to football and recognising his potential at the club.
“There’s an old saying that football will always find the answers. It is the truth,” he said.
“The door for anyone is never shut. But you have to sort it out with football, by playing well and playing regularly. If you do that, obviously there will always be an opportunity.
“Things haven’t really worked out the way we and he would have wanted so far.
“Take out the two goals on Saturday and look at the minutes he has played, it is not enough for Dennis and that is why he went out on loan in the first place.”