All change at Bolton Wanderers: Sam Ricketts departs and Alex Baptiste brought in by Dougie Freedman

By John McDougall

Dougie Freedman’s overhaul of Bolton Wanderers’ squad is in full flow after Alex Baptiste signed a three-year deal and fellow defender Sam Ricketts left the Reebok Stadium.

Baptiste, 27, joined the Trotters on a free transfer from Blackpool while 31-year-old Ricketts has left for League One side Wolves, following his contract being cancelled by mutual consent.

And Wanderers boss Freedman says he made the decision after not being able to guarantee the Welsh international a place in his starting line-up for the upcoming campaign.

“Sam’s been a good servant,” the Glaswegian told BBC Sport.

“But I just can’t honestly look him in the eye and guarantee him a position in the team.”

The move is part of Freedman’s plan to rejuvenate a side that narrowing missed out on the Championship play-off places last season on goal difference.

Veteran Whites captain Kevin Davies has been released, and 34-year-old Bulgarian winger Martin Petrov was sold to La Liga side Espanyol in January.

New arrival Baptiste feels he and Freedman are on the same wavelength and wants to see Bolton back in the Premier League sooner rather than later.

“I met up with the manager and we spoke about his ambitions for the club – they definitely match my own,” he told Bolton’s official website.

“His passion for the game of football is fantastic and I’m really looking forward to working with him.

“As a defender I feel I’m entering my peak years. This is definitely the right move for me at this stage of my career. The end aim is to now get Bolton promoted back to the Premier League.

“I’ll always give my all for the side. Wherever the manager asks me to play I’ll go out there and give it my all.”

Freedman has also added youth to his squad by signing 18-year-old Conor Wilkinson from Millwall and fellow teenager Hayden White from Sheffield Wednesday.

Image courtesy of BWFCOfficial, via YouTube, with thanks.

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