Former Derry City skipper Eoin Toal 'enjoys' his long awaited Bolton Wanderers debut

FORMER Derry City skipper Eoin Toal 'enjoyed' his first taste of English football as he made his long awaited debut for Bolton Wanderers on Tuesday night.

The Armagh native played 60 minutes of Bolton's 4-1 victory over Crew Alexandra in the Papa John's Trophy. It was his first appearance for Ian Evatt's side since signing a three year deal in July.

Toal had previously played 45 minutes for Wanderers' B team in a 2-1 loss to Blackpool in the Central League last week.

That was his first appearance in a Bolton shirt for the first team since returning from a troublesome ankle injury sustained while playing for Derry during the summer.

He was forced to wait on his first team debut and was delighted to finally get on the pitch and play at the University of Bolton Stadium in a convincing win where former Sligo Rovers and Cork City man Kieran Sadlier was amongst the goals.

The 23-year-old acknowledged the competition he faces if he is to become a regular under Evatt but believes he will only continue to improve once he is given opportunities to impress.

"It was good to get my first 60 minutes for the first-team," Toal said. "It was really enjoyable. I've had a few injuries but I've recovered now and I'm glad I got the opportunity to play.

"I felt good. I had quality players around me who helped me through it as well. All the lads and the staff have been really welcoming and I'm really looking forward to really kicking on now.

Ex-Derry City defender Eoin Toal made his Bolton Wanderers debut against Crewe. Photo courtesy of Bolton Wanderers.

"We played really well. I only played 60 minutes but it was a good run out for myself and I was glad to get the minutes in the legs. It was my first taste of English football so hopefully I can just kick on now."

Toal was Evatt's fourth summer signing and is one of six centre-backs at the manager's disposal, alongside Ricardo Santos, Gethin Jones, George Johnston, Jack Iredale and Will Aimson.

He knows he faces tough competition if he's to nail down a starting berth in the league.

"It's a strong squad and there's a lot of competition for places. There's a lot of strength in depth in the squad and it's good to have competition for places."

Toal made over 20 appearances for Derry this season and the defender admits it has been a strange experience joining Wanderers at the very start of their League One campaign.

“It has been different,” he said. “Signing a month ago, having had a pre-season in January, then stopping again, that month out injured could do me the world of good in the end because there is a full season to come here and there are a lot of games coming up."

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