‘Do it with this club’ – Dapo Afolayan’s great Bolton Wanderers future view as target set

Dapo Afolayan wants to get promoted to the Championship and beyond with Bolton Wanderers as he feels there is nothing wrong in having the sights set high in wanting to be top dogs in League One next season.

Afolayan ended the season as Wanderers top scorer with 14 goals in all competitions and was crowned the club’s player of the year after a remarkable individual campaign. It was his first full one in men’s professional football.

Wanderers finished the season ninth in League One, their first back in the division since being relegated in 2020 and secured a top 10 finish on the final day of the campaign. They finished with a points tally of 73 and 10 from the play-offs.

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Work is now fully under way at Wanderers preparing for next season, with the squad due to report back for pre-season training on June 17. The new campaign in League One then kicks off over the weekend of July 30.

And Afolayan believes that though there will be pressure on Wanderers next season, it is up to them to stand up to that and believes there is nothing wrong with targeting that next season.

After such a good campaign, speculation has linked Championship clubs with having an eye on Afolayan this summer. But he is confident he can reach that division and beyond with Wanderers and that is his focus of him.

He said: “Everyone at the club knows what the target is, there’s a lot of pressure on it but it’s up to us. We have to stand up to that pressure.

“We have to go away, work on our game and everyone come back better. We’ve had a good look at the league this season so it’s down to us to come next season.

“That’s exactly what our aim is (to be top dogs in League One next season). I think there’s nothing wrong with saying that. I think any club in this league that’s not targeting promotion, I think that’s what you have to do. You have to always want to win games when you play football matches and the prize is at the top levels.

“It’s the level and it’s up to us to step up to that level. For me it’s something I’ll look forward to, it’s a challenge that I relish and I don’t shy away from a challenge, so we’ll have a good go again next season.

“We want to be playing in the Championship and the Premier League and that’s what for me especially as a player, that’s what I look up to and that’s what I want to do and I want to do it with this club.

“As I said when I joined in one of my first interviews, everything is here for the club. It’s just about getting things together and everyone pulling in the right direction and getting on the pitch and everything off the pitch working together and I think we’re starting to do that. “

An exciting summer is in prospect at Wanderers with signings entering the building to supplement the strong squad which Ian Evatt already has at his disposal. The first new arrival came earlier this week with the acquisition of Jack Iredale on a free transfer from Cambridge United.

Afolayan believes the club has been exciting since he joined it back in January 2021, initially on loan from West Ham United. And after seeing that Wanderers are clearly back on a positive trajectory after after a difficult past few years, he is looking forward to what the summer brings at Wanderers with the squad aiming to get the club back to where it belongs.

He said: “The team’s been exciting since I joined. It was one of the big reasons why I joined in the first place. There were players playing in the squad that I’ve looked up to growing up – Nathan Delfouneso, Alex Baptiste, Matt Gilks ​​- all these players that I’ve known my whole like and it makes me want to join the club.

“The club is a massive club and it’s up to us to get the club back to where it belongs. It’s been through some tough times but everyone can see that the club is on the up.”

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