What can veteran duo Heskey and Gudjohnsen offer Bolton?
It’s the moment we have all been waiting for, Emile William Ivanhoe Heskey has returned to English football, and with Championship outfit Bolton Wanderers (9/1 with Coral to finish in the play-offs at the end of the season).
Trotters boss Neil Lennon offered his former Leicester City teammate a trial with the Lancashire club, with the 36-year-old impressing in an Under-21 match against Reading, where he managed 63 minutes in the loss. The former Liverpool forward has been signed on a short-term contract after his release from Australian outfit Newcastle Jets.
It seems an age since Heskey was terrorising Premier League defences, with his famed battering ram style, but now fans will get the chance to see the former England international in action in this country once more.
He becomes Bolton’s second free transfer in recent weeks, with fellow 36-year-old Eidur Gudjohnsen joining his former club, also after a successful trial. The Icelandic attacker has featured twice already, in a 0-0 draw with high-flying Ipswich Town and 1-0 away win over Millwall.
Heskey and Gudjohnsen have joined at a great time for the Trotters too, as they are currently on a run of seven Championship games without a loss, taking them up to 16th in the table after a poor start to the season. They are now 12 points off the top six, and seven above the drop zone.
But what extra can these mid-30s has-beens offer Bolton?
For one, the versatile duo will be able to offer cover for injured midfielder Mark Davies, and winger Chung-Yong Lee, who is expected to link up with South Korea for the Asian Cup in January.
While neither of usual forwards Heskey and Gudjohnsen were prolific scorers in their heyday, they gained reputations for bringing others into the game with their unique sacrificing styles.
Lennon will be hoping that they can link up with the likes of current club leading marksman Craig Davies, and help the side produce more goals – they’ve managed to net just 23 from their opening 22 matches so far.
The 36-year-olds also bring much-needed experience and quality to a side hoping to gain promotion back to the Premier League (22/1 chances to do so this term).
Heskey has turned out for the likes of Liverpool, Leicester, Wigan Athletic and Aston Villa before joining the Trotters, and has been to World Cups and European Championships with England, for whom he won 62 caps with.
Despite being in the advanced stages of his playing career, Heskey’s physical presence and determination could still be a huge plus for Bolton in the Championship, in what is renowned to be a physical league.
Gudjohnsen, on the other hand, is a different footballer in style to Heskey, but produces the same results. Arguably the greatest ever Icelandic player, Gudjohnsen is more technical than his new English teammate, but still thrives on making assists.
He returns to the club he last represented 14 years ago, and where his performances for Bolton back then gained him a big-money move to Chelsea. Gudjohnsen has won multiple major trophies in England, Spain (with Barcelona) and the Netherlands (PSV), and his knowledge of the game can only be a help to the Trotters.
“I think he’ll be a big-game player and enjoy the occasion,” Lennon said of Gudjohnsen. “It will take him a little bit of time to adjust to the Championship and the quality of player he’s used to playing with.”
So make sure to catch some of the action in Bolton’s next Championship match on Boxing Day against local rivals Blackburn Rovers at home, who they are 6/4 favourites to beat. Gudjohnsen is a 23/10 chance to score anytime, while Heskey is awaiting international clearance in the hope of being eligible for this fixture.