James Bolton – A Good Signing By Shrewsbury Town?
Having failed again to the make the National League playoffs, north east club Gateshead have been left with little choice but to let go of defender James Bolton.
The former Halifax man has put pen to paper on a two-year deal at New Meadow and is the club’s tenth summer signing already. Although the 22-year-old is comfortable in the centre of the defence, Shrews manager Paul Hirst has confirmed that Bolton will play at right-back in the coming season.
Bolton’s progression has been gradual to this point and he finally makes it to league football. Having started out at Macclesfield, he was loaned out to Workington of the National League North where he played 14 times. Temporary assignments at Stafford and Halifax followed before he made his full Macclesfield debut, appearing just 11 times in total before being allowed to join Halifax on a permanent deal.
A popular figure at the Shay, Bolton appeared 112 times in all for the Yorkshire outfit at National League level, chipping in with 12 goals along the way and gained quite the reputation. Last summer Bolton was given another free transfer in order to take another small step up the football ladder when he went to International Stadium to join Gateshead.
Neil Aspin’s side once again showed glimpses of playoff quality and several runs throughout the season almost got them there, with Bolton contributing 41 games to the cause, mostly at right-back, with one goal thrown in too. The Heed eventually finished 8th and with the offer of League One football on the table, there was no way Bolton could afford to turn this deal down.
Although he is unproven at this level or even anything like it, plenty of non-league players in the past have taken the step up in their stride and I don’t see why Bolton can’t do the same. Over the past year or so, he has been capped three times by England C, basically the non-league England team, and is clearly one of the better players in the National League and getting better all the time.
Given natural progression at this age, League One does not appear to be beyond him. So with the transfer fees and wage quotes for Championship players willing to take a step down, Bolton represents far less a risk and this could prove to be quite a canny signing for Paul Hurst.