B Team boss Matt Craddock has hailed Finlay Lockett nearly a year on from the youngster’s return from injury.
Lockett had been tipped to make an impact on the first-team scene at Wanderers before having surgery to repair a cruciate ligament injury in the summer of 2021.
The versatile attacker spent the best part of a year on the sidelines prior to his return in the Central League last season.
He has been regularly involved for the second string this term and scored a superb strike in the 3-2 defeat against Burnley Under-23s on Friday afternoon.
Lockett also had a loan stint at Atherton Colls earlier this season, and Craddock has been pleased with his development.
“Finlay is a really good kid,” he told The Bolton News. “We sent him on loan to Atherton at the start of the year to experience men’s football because he had a long time out with an injury last season.
“He went out, did the loan and worked really hard. He came back a mature, young professional and he has been very good.
“He works really hard during the week and he has real quality. When he gets an opportunity around the box, it is usually a shot on target. (Against Burnley) it was a wonderful strike so I was pleased for him.”
George Johnston, MJ Williams, George Johnston and Lloyd Isgrove all featured against Burnley, as well as player-coach Andrew Tutte.
Craddock says it is “a real bonus” to have first-team players involved and hopes it will help the youngsters get better at “solving problems” on the pitch.
He added: “You can have a plan, but in games they have to change because teams adapt and do different things. They try to create overloads in different areas and move us around.
“The first-team lads are really good at solving those problems in the moment and then obviously supporting our players around them.
“Today, we had a formation but our shape changed throughout the game. That was led from inside the game, which I was really pleased about.
“People like MJ and George Thomason taking control and saying, ‘this is what we need to look like’. It helps the other players understand and recognise moments when they have to adjust their positions and their style of play.
“Any time we have first-team players here, their attitude is exceptional and it is a real bonus for us. It is a pleasure as a coach and really beneficial for the players.”