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Bolton Wanderers have moved to sign Bristol City front man Aaron Wilbraham on a one-year deal and it could just be what they need, on the eve of the Championship season.
Gary Madine can, of course, still do a job. But clearly, Phil Parkinson is aware that he’ll need more to make an impact in this division. Adam Le Fondre has arrived at the club on a free transfer and Newcastle starlet Adam Armstrong is at the Macron Stadium on loan to bolster the forward options. But the striking team now appears complete after the arrival of Wilbraham.
The former Stockport, Hull and Norwich man, now 37, has time until the end of June to prove he can still do it at this level but whatever happens on the pitch, the wily Parkinson knows that the Knutsford-born striker is at the club as much for his experience as anything else.
That said, catching the front man in the right sort of form can prove to be very beneficial given his past record. Back in 2008/09 when playing for MK Dons, Wilbraham scored 17 league goals in 35 games. He struggled for game time when he was a Premier League player at Norwich City and Crystal Palace. But when handed 37 league games for Bristol City down in League one three seasons ago, he bashed in 18 goals.
At a glance then, his goal record isn’t that impressive. However, what he has proven is that when he is allowed game time he can definitely get the job done.
That being said, Wilbraham is not the type to whine too much at the lack of pitch time and at this stage of his career, he could be best used as an impact sub. The likes of Adam Armstrong and Sammy Ameobi are precocious types who could perhaps be told to throw everything at these games from minute one, something which can bring great benefits of course but also lead to substitutions being required.
Wilbraham won’t need too many chances to score a goal and so bringing him into the fold late in the games could be very fruitful indeed. I’d say defences will not be too sharp for the qualities of Wilbraham whose career, while admirable in the grand scheme of things, has gone slightly under the radar.
The surprise element is exactly the sort of tactic Bolton need to employ this season in order to get the job done because as it stands, their Championship survival is up in the air.