MANAGER Dougie Freedman is tipping young winger Rob Hall to be a star for Wanderers – but will not be rushed into fast-tracking his development.
Freedman signed the highly-rated 20-year-old from West Ham in the summer after a brief loan spell at the end of last season, with a tribunal setting a fee in the region of £450,000.
Hall has since been used sparingly this season, starting just seven of his 17 appearances and is likely to be in reserve again when Watford visit the Reebok on Saturday.
It has led to frustration among some sections of the Whites support who have only seen glimpses of the Aylesbury-born youngster’s potential.
But Freedman is determined to nurture his talent patiently, similarly to the way he developed youngsters like Nathaniel Clyne and Wilfried Zaha at his previous club Crystal Palace.
He believes the rough and tumble at the wrong end of the Championship will take some adjustment from the former Hammer and is not the place for inexperience.
The Whites boss said: “Rob has shown glimpses to the Bolton fans that he will be good in the future but right now he’s still developing and growing as a player.
“At times I think the Championship is a little bit too hustle and bustle for him and he’s got to learn how to handle that.
“I have got no fear throwing him in because I know he’s talented enough.
“But I feel naturally cautious about how much it could harm him if it doesn’t come off and how long it could take him to come back from that.
“In my experience, this (a relegation fight) is not the right situation for younger players because it might scar them for the longer term.
“When Rob is on his game he’s very capable of playing at this level but right now I don’t think the team is set up for him.
“We maybe need to grind ourselves through a set of results.
“I honestly believe that when we do that, the Robert Halls of this world will be the stars of the show.”
Hall’s absence from regular team selections has also led to some criticism of Freedman’s methods and a lack of youthfulness in his Wanderers team.
There have been brief squad places for the likes of Andy Kellett and Tom Youngs this season but few have progressed from the Whites youth ranks and development squad to the senior side.
Freedman has previously stated his desire to blood youth but says that will only happen when he believes they are ready for a seamless transition.
He added: “When I go and see the Under-21s they have got to be performing at a level from which I feel they are capable of making the step up.
“To be fair, there are now one or two knocking on the door.”