Tough times at Bolton for City loan duo as Carrow Road watching brief awaits
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They've won just one of their last 16 matches before facing high-flying Norwich City - and Bolton will also be without two players on loan from the Canaries at Carrow Road.
Yanic Wildschut and Remi Matthews are both ineligible to face their parent club on Saturday, even though the deal for keeper Matthews is due to be made permanent in January and Wildschut is unlikely to return.
Both featured during pre-season games as Daniel Farke prepared his squad for the new season but Dutch winger Wildschut was allowed to return to the UK from City’s training base in Germany to complete a season-long loan move to Wanderers.
The Canaries pointed out when confirming the deal that there is the possibility for the 27-year-old to be recalled in January. That’s because the former Wigan forward is approaching the end of his Norwich contract so, in theory, good form could have opened up an opportunity to make some money on a player previously brought in for big money.
Wildschut was signed from Wigan in January 2017 as Alex Neil tried to repair his derailed team, for a reported fee of £4million which could potentially rise to around £7m.
It’s unlikely much in the way of add-on fees went to the Latics however, as the Dutchman never really found his feet in Norfolk.
The speedy attacker made 20 appearances under Farke during the first half of last season, scoring once, a sweetly-struck winner at Sheffield United.
Some of those games were in an unfamiliar wing-back role and just seven were starts but he had done enough in the past to persuade Neil Warnock to take him to Cardiff on loan for the second half of the campaign.
Another 10 appearances followed for the Welsh side, setting up a goal in his first appearance as a substitute, but just three were from the start – as the Bluebirds romped to automatic promotion.
Wildschut wasn’t taken along for the ride to the Premier League and instead he finds himself back in the north-west with Bolton where, in line with the fortunes of Phil Parkinson’s team, a bright start has rather tailed off.
Bundling home a late winner at West Brom on the opening day of the season had plenty of Canaries fans rolling their eyes back in August and another winner, at Reading, followed a fortnight later.
A starting role continues to elude the City loanee though, with just five of his 16 appearances being in the starting XI and no further goals and assists to boast of as the Trotters have nosedived.
He had played all of a narrow 1-0 loss at Sheffield Wednesday recently but only got 13 minutes from the bench during Saturday’s 1-1 home derby draw with old club Wigan – when a brilliant goal-line clearance from striker Chris Doidge denied the Latics late on.
With just two goals scored by Wanderers in their last six games, Wildschut would no doubt love the chance to try and press his claims against Norwich on Saturday, but will have to watch from the stands instead.
He will have Matthews for company though, with the Gorleston-born keeper cutting ties with his boyhood club.
The 24-year-old enjoyed a successful loan in League One with Plymouth last season, following on from other productive spells with Hamilton, Doncaster and Burton.
It looked like that spell in Devon had earned the academy product a shot at the number one shirt for this campaign, particularly with players who fitted the homegrown criteria needed.
Some shaky pre-season moments saw Netherlands international Tim Krul arrive on a free with pre-season well under way though, with the keeper qualifying as homegrown having joined Newcastle as a teenager.
There wasn’t even a place on the bench for the first two games of the Championship season and it became clear Matthews was surplus to requirements.
With the permanent transfer window closing on August 9 however, that meant Bolton have had to loan him until January, when the deal will be made permanent – unless the Trotters’ financial issues cause any hiccups, that is.
So far just four appearances have followed, starting a narrow 2-1 home defeat to Leeds in the Carabao Cup first round in August and then three consecutive league games in September and October.
That was due to former Norwich loanee Ben Alnwick returning from injury, with the Bolton number one also wearing the captain’s armband recently, while Matthews has had to bide his time on the bench.
While Canaries supporters will undoubtedly wish both players well, it’s highly unlikely either will feature for City under Farke again – leaving potential League One returns on the horizon.