The fresh start from Portsmouth which turned into a nightmare, but Plymouth forgotten man ready to face former employers

He left Fratton Park seeking a fresh start after frustratingly restricted to Pompey fringe duty.

Tuesday, 28th December 2021, 4:55 am

Yet James Bolton has still to make an appearance for Plymouth – and remains without a first-team outing for more than eight months.

The versatile defender has endured a nightmare beginning to life at Home Park after recruited from the Blues in June for an undisclosed fee.

A serious ankle sustained in pre-season has dictated he has never featured in so much as a friendly for the Pilgrims since his arrival.

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However, the 27-year-old was an unused substitute in their 2-0 Boxing Day win at Cheltenham.

That represented the second time he has been named in a League One squad this season, following a December comeback.

And that puts Bolton in the frame to potentially be included among the match-day 18 for the visit of Pompey on Wednesday (7.45pm).

The right-back arrived at Fratton Park in the summer of 2019 as Nathan Thompson’s replacement and went on to make 53 appearances, scoring three times.

James Bolton made 53 appearances for Pompey, scoring three times, before leaving for Plymouth in June. Picture: Joe Pepler

However, he struggled to establish himself last term following Kenny Jackett’s recruitment of Callum Johnson from Accrington.

Instead, Bolton largely featured as a make-shift central defender, with nine of his 15 starts that campaign coming in the role.

His final Pompey appearance was last season’s 3-3 draw at Accrington in April, when he partnered Sean Raggett and Rasmus Nicolaisen in a back three.

That was more than eight months ago – and it remains his most recent outing for any club.

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Then Pilgrims boss Ryan Lowe had previously attempted to recruit the former Shrewsbury man in last year’s January transfer window, yet finally got his man six months later.

However, an ankle injury ahead of the pre-season match schedule would confine Bolton to the sidelines until this month.

He has been an unused substitute on three occasions since then, including an FA Cup second-round victory at Rochdale.

And recently-appointed manager Stephen Schumacher could retain him in his squad for their encounter with Pompey.

The Pilgrims are presently fourth in League One, following consecutive wins over Charlton and Cheltenham, without conceding a goal.

During that same period, both Pompey’s league encounters – against AFC Wimbledon and Oxford United – were postponed.

Still, Cowley’s men will be back in action at Home Park – and could see a familiar face in the opposition dug-out.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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