💬 Thomason: ‘In football opportunities come and if you take them then anything can happen.'

Trusted hugely by Ian Evatt and his staff and touted for a bright future in the game, Thomason has made a recent rise into the first team and has been a regular for Wanderers in the last few fixtures.

The 19 year-old midfielder spoke about his time at the club so far as well as his non-league grounding and aspirations for 2021.

He said: ‘I’m delighted to have the opportunity to be playing in the first team. I go into training every day, try my hardest and try to learn as much as I can off the senior pros. I’m thankful that the gaffer has put the faith in me to play the last couple of games.

‘To be honest with you I’ve enjoyed every minute. It’s great to be able to be playing with players who have played week in week out in the league for many years. I’m trying to soak up as much of it as I can and just enjoy playing my football.

‘Because I train day in day out with the lads, I’m fully aware of what their standards are like and how high they are. The main thing I’ve noticed about the step up into professional football is the fast tempo and how quickly the ball gets shifted. The ball gets moved quicker and the players are smarter. That’s the big difference when you compare it to non-league.’

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Thomason has had a slightly unorthodox route into the professional game after playing in the first team at Longridge Town prior to his move to Bolton Wanderers twelve months ago and he spoke about his non-league education and how it’s helped him to hold his own in the Football League.

‘I think playing down the ladder teaches you everything that academy football can’t teach you. It toughens you up. Playing in front of crowds of maybe a couple of hundred with tackles flying in teaches you a lot and at the end of the day there’s an atmosphere in the ground with three points to play for. You might not experience all of that in academy football, so I really enjoyed it. At that level you get to challenge yourself physically every week.’

Wanderers boss Ian Evatt has spoken on record on a number of occasions about the faith he has in Thomason to come into the first team and make an impact and the midfielder spoke about working with the coaching staff and learning from his teammates each day.

‘As a player all you want is for the manager to put his confidence in you and let you go out and play. I love the sessions the gaffer and Pete (Atherton) put on every single day with the passing and possession; that’s my type of game so I’ve been able to learn lots of different things. All the small details we go through in training goes into games. I really enjoy going in every day and training.

‘I’ve definitely learned a lot from the more experienced pros, the likes of Doyler (Eoin Doyle) and Sarce (Antoni Sarcevic). At the club we have a really good group of midfield players and we all have different attributes. I’ve just been picking up a lot of little bits off the other lads. Sarce is a really good carrier of the ball, Brandon (Comley) and Tuttey (Andrew Tutte) have great defensive awareness. I try to analyse them and take bits to add to my game each day.

‘I try to pick the brains of Brandon and Tuttey quite a bit about the defensive side of being a central midfielder. That’s probably my biggest weakness and it’s something I really want to try and improve, but I also want to stick to my best abilities as much as possible too.

‘You’ve got to be professional on and off the pitch all of the time. You’re representing one of the biggest clubs in England at the end of the day so you’ve got to make sure that standards are always high and that you’re doing everything you can to ensure that both you and the club as a collective are ultimately successful.’

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A player who spent a number of years in the youth system at Blackpool, Thomason spoke about his football journey following his release from Bloomfield Road at the age of 16 and how he eventually got an opportunity at Bolton Wanderers.

‘I was in the academy at Blackpool between the ages of 8 and 16. I didn’t get offered a two-year scholarship and from that point I went into men’s football down at Longridge in the North West Counties League. I just wanted to get back to enjoying football again really. The manager there put a lot of trust in me as a young 16/17 year old lad. We played really good football there and kept the ball on the floor; you don’t usually see that at that level.

‘We had a really young team, so we had a lot of people coming to watch our players – not necessarily me at the time but I just enjoyed the fact we had a tight-knit squad with a tight-knit community coming to watch the team week in week out. In my second season there, we had a lot of interest surrounding the younger players and my Manager at the time Ashy (Lee Ashcroft), he knows Keith Hill really well. He gave him a message and then the next thing you know I came in for a trial and thankfully I signed at Bolton.

‘I know the Manager and his assistant at Bamber Bridge really well and I’m also thankful to them for the help they gave me during my two spells there, and for taking me in and giving me game time. Similarly to Longridge and here at Bolton, they played really good football that suited my style of play and it allowed me to play as well as I can. I was able to play with a smile on my face week in week out and that’s the best thing.’

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Approximately a year since his move to Bolton Wanderers after a successful trial period and just over a week shy of his 20th birthday, Thomason admitted he didn’t expect as much first team involvement so soon but hopes to make the most of his opportunity, continuing to improve and push on.

‘I never really expected to be playing in the first team so soon after coming to Bolton. I especially couldn’t really envisage that I’d be playing football professionally when I was 17 and playing in the ninth tier. I thought that I could maybe earn a decent little bit of money playing a couple of levels up, maybe alongside a job – that was a reality at the time.

‘In football though, opportunities come and if you take them then anything can happen. If I’m training week in week out, trying my hardest and playing well during the matches then you get opportunities. Thankfully at the moment I’m playing and I’m enjoying every minute of it. It’s happened earlier than I expected but I’m happy that it’s happening.

‘I just want to play first team men’s football wherever I can and hopefully I can push on with this club because I love it here. I love the fans and I love everyone that’s involved with the club. On a personal level I want to be able to develop different attributes to my game. I also want to try get more assists and goal involvements if I get more opportunities in the first team.

‘Even though it’s only been three or four weeks from the Port Vale game to now, I feel like I’m making improvements. I’m picking up little bits from watching my games back and things like that. I’m obviously growing in confidence and that comes with the players and the Manager trusting me and I’m very thankful for that.

‘I do like to watch myself back maybe two, three or four times. Even if there’s good clips on there, I’m always nit-picking at the bad bits and trying to improve on things that might not have gone so well for me.’

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