David Moyes may be made to regret allowing Oladapo Afolayan to leave West Ham United in January as he continues to impress at Bolton Wanderers.
Afolayan joined the League Two side on loan for the rest of the season as a late window pick-up for Ian Evatt, but has an uncertain future in claret and blue with his contract set to expire this summer.
Afolayan has proven to be a regular of Evatt’s plans in Greater Manchester since his mid-season switch, with the forward starting 16 of his 18 outings and is yet to miss a League Two fixture for the promotion-chasing Wanderers.
He was in scintillating form on Tuesday night as Bolton beat Carlisle United 1-0 and played a key role in Eoin Doyle’s winner, but Evatt was unhappy at the treatment he received nor the protection given by referee Martin Coy.
“Dapo was brilliant [in the] first half, breathtaking,” Evatt said, via quotes by The Bolton News. “I just wish he’d get more protection because the amount of fouls and kicks that he gets, and referees need to do more to protect these skill players. He is bruised and battered, and he doesn’t deserve that.”
Afolayan was officially fouled four times by Carlisle and was denied a penalty in the second period when George Tanner appeared to trip the attacker – no player for either side was fouled more or as often, per SofaScore.
It has been a frequent trend of his time at the UniBol for fouls to be given for challenges on Afolayan, who has been fouled 3.1 times per game on average, which ranks the London-born forward second across League Two just shy of Exeter City’s Will Dean (4.5).
Afolayan coming close to his first Bolton goal when the West Ham product rattled the base of the post before Doyle struck home will have given him encouragement to keep doing what he’s doing, as well, after two assists in his 18 Wanderers appearances to date.
But Evatt describing Afolayan’s first-half display as being “breathtaking” will be particularly worrisome for Moyes, who may be left to rue allowing the forward to leave the London Stadium with just six months left on his contract.
Afolayan is bound to have a suitor in Bolton when his Hammers terms expire, and is showing great progress in his development by taking the bumps and bruises from League Two opposition without dropping his head.
The character that will build is certain to be beneficial to his continued development as he forges a career in the game, most likely away from West Ham having only played one senior game when he scored from the bench against Doncaster Rovers in the FA Cup in January.
AND in other news, West Ham have been rocked by a double injury blow ahead of hosting Chelsea…