Bolton Wanderers F.C. Reserves and Academy

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Bolton Wanderers Development Squad
Full name Bolton Wanderers F.C. Development Squad
Nickname(s)The Trotters, Junior Whites
Founded1874 (as Christ Church FC)
GroundCounty Ground
Manager Flag of England.svg Sam Hird (reserves)
Flag of England.svg Mark Litherland (Under-18s)
League The Central League (Reserves)
EFL Youth Alliance North West (Under-18s)
2020–2021EFL Youth Alliance North West, 6th of 14 (Under-18s)
Soccerball current event.svg Current season

They participate in the Manchester Senior Cup, although in recent years the teams entered in this competition have featured an increasing number of youth players.


Bolton Wanderers Development Squad play their home games at the County Ground in Leyland, the home ground of the Lancashire F.A.

Notable graduates of the squad include former captain Kevin Nolan.

Development Squad

Bolton first ever reserve team was set up in 1921. [1]

In August 2016, the U21 side was renamed as the U23 side, after a consultation involving all 31 clubs in the Professional Development League 2, voted in favour of the new age parameters. [2]

Due to Bolton dropping to Category Three in March 2020 Bolton had no Development Squad in the 2020–21 season. [3] This was the first time since the reserves were created in 1921 that Bolton had not had a reserve team. [1]

After nearly a year without reserve team football, Bolton started setting up reserve friendlies in March 2021 so that their fringe players could get game time and plan to relaunch a reserve team for the 2021–2022 season. [4] Bolton Reserves entered The Central League starting with the 2021–2022 season. [5]

The Academy

The Bolton Wanderers Academy was established in 1998 and is based at the club and the main training ground. It replaced the older, more informal youth system, and enabled the club to focus their youth development and scouting, employing new techniques and FA standards.

It was last overseen by former Bolton Wanderers F.C. player Jimmy Phillips. It provides a stepping stone for youngsters to progress to the highest levels of football at Bolton Wanderers.

Scouts attend many local youth matches looking for talented boys. A boy will then be invited to attend training sessions at the Academy. They are taken in as young as the age of eight. At this age, the boys start by simply attending after-school training sessions, but as they reach their middle-teens, their academic needs will be taken over by the Academy if they are deemed athletically talented enough.

Between the ages of eight and twelve the boys play in eight-a-side games of three twenty-minute periods. It allows the boys to play as defenders or as attackers in small groups within a system and is not as physically demanding as playing eleven-a-side matches.

The first player to graduate from the Academy to the first team was the former club captain, Kevin Nolan who had previously been on the youth books of Liverpool. He has since been followed into the first team by Joey O'Brien, Ricardo Vaz Tê, Nicky Hunt. Josh Vela, Zach Clough and Rob Holding amongst others.

In December 2012, the Bolton Academy was awarded Elite status by the Premier League. [6]

In June 2015, it was announced that the club had sought to downgrade from a Category One status in order to save money. [7] On March 2020, the club announced it would down grade to Category Three. [3]


Academy (Under-18s)

As of July 2021.

NamePositionDate of BirthNationality
Joseph BrownDefender23 April 2004 (age 17) Flag of England.svg
Joel BurgessDefender Flag of England.svg
Maxwell ConwayMidfielder5 September 2003 (age 17) Flag of England.svg
Wes FrimpongDefender Flag of England.svg
Mitch HenryStriker2 September 2003 (age 17) Flag of England.svg
Layton KirnonStriker Flag of England.svg
Kian Le FondreMidfielder2 February 2005 (age 16) Flag of England.svg
Ellis LitherlandGoalkeeper5 May 2004 (age 17) Flag of England.svg
Rio McEvoyStriker Ulster Banner.svg
Arran PettiferMidfielder1 October 2003 (age 17) Flag of England.svg
Sonny Sharples-AhmedMidfielder3 March 2005 (age 16) Flag of England.svg
Jack ThompsonDefender2 November 2003 (age 17) Flag of England.svg
Lamine ToureDefender24 December 2003 (age 17) Flag of England.svg
Mathew TweedleyMidfielder16 April 2004 (age 17) Flag of England.svg
Max WilcoxMidfielder11 September 2003 (age 17) Flag of England.svg

Managerial History

Reserves/Development Squad

Youth Team/Academy


In addition, the academy employ staff from the first-team.


The following players have been associated with the Bolton Wanderers Academy and have gone on to play league football for Bolton or other clubs since the Academy was founded in 1998.

Academy Graduates who have made at least one senior appearance for the Bolton Wanderers first team.

Other players associated with the Academy who have made at least one senior appearance for league clubs in Britain or abroad.


  1. 1 2 The Bolton News: "Bolton re-structure means end of the road for reserve team football"
  2. "Professional Development League switches to Under-23 format".
  3. 1 2
  4. The Bolton News: "Bolton boss Ian Evatt on potential return of second-string football"
  5. [ The Bolton News: "Bolton boss Ian Evatt explains decision to bring back reserve side"
  6. "Academy Awarded Top Status".
  7. "UPDATED: Wanderers to save £1 million by downgrading youth academy". The Bolton News.

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