Bolton is first to extend his stay with Shaymen

James Bolton in action for Town against Dover. Picture: Dover Express

James Bolton in action for Town against Dover. Picture: Dover Express

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It will have been of little surprise to most seasoned Shaymen observers that James Bolton was the first player in the squad to be signed up for next season.

Halifax took up the option to retain the 21-year-old for another year after an impressive campaign in which the full-back was a consistent performer.

Bolton made 31 appearances and scored four goals last season - making him the club’s joint-fifth highest scorer.

Bolton admitted he wasn’t sure about his future. “You read stuff about the manager making a lot of changes so you wonder if you’ll be staying.” But he will now be playing for the club for the fourth consecutive season after previous loan spells in the 2012-13 and 2013-14 campaigns.

The former Macclesfield youngster believes he is a different player to the one that signed for the club permanently last summer.

“I think I did OK last season. A few highs and lows but you’re going to get that in football.

“I’m still quite young so I’m still learning and I’m going to make mistakes, like the one at Chester a couple of years ago (where hesitancy between him and Matt Glennon allowed Chester to score a last-minute winner moments after Bolton had equalised).

“There were a few of those last season but it doesn’t bother me now like it used to.

“I don’t think about it - and I don’t wait for Matt Glennon’s shout now either!”

Bolton and fellow defender Kevin Roberts were locked in a friendly rivalry for the right-back berth throughout last season, with both players making the same number of starts and substitute appearances.

“Me and Kev Roberts pushed each other last season and both had spells in the side, which helps,” he said.

“I think it stops you getting too comfortable and if you know your place is guaranteed you tend not to push yourself quite as much.”

Reflecting on last season’s ninth-placed finish, Bolton regrets Halifax’s awful end to the campaign and is hoping to avoid a repeat next term.

“The end of the season let us down massively,” he said.

“In the last 15 games, if we had won a couple of those we’d have been right up there.

“You look at games like Southport and Dartford and if we’d won those it could have been a different story and we might have nicked a play-off place.

“We had a great start so hopefully next season we can do that again and keep it going.”

The defender is already aiming high next season.

“I think we’ve got to aim to improve on our position,” he said.

“Our aim has to be to reach the play-offs.

“Whether that’s realistic or not I don’t know.

“We’ll have to see who we bring in over the summer but hopefully we’ll be challenging.”

But Town will have to do without their captain Marc Roberts, who looks set for a move to the Football League.

Bolton can’t speak highly enough of his former skipper.

“He’s a really humble bloke and he’s kept his feet on the ground,” he said.

“He saw a move fall through and he’s known for a while he was going but he’s not let that affect his game.

“He could have just sat back and not been bothered but he showed a lot of determination and pretty much played every game for us.

“Whoever signs him are going to get a really good player.

“He’s so solid and you very rarely see him make a mistake.

“Obviously he’s great in the air and if you’ve got a commanding defender like that it’s a massive help.

“Maybe the Championship might be where he ends up with a bit of time but he can definitely do a job in League One.”

Bolton is also part of the latest England C squad, which will play the Republic of Ireland under 21s in Galway on June 1.

The youngster made his debut for the side in their last game in Cyprus and enjoyed the experience.

“It’s really good and I really enjoyed the trip to Cyprus,” he added.

“That was something a bit different and a chance to go abroad.

“It’s just the little things like the medical tests every day - it’s so professionally run.

“I’ve only had one training session and one game with them so far but from what I saw the training was bang on.

“He wants people to play their natural game and doesn’t kill you if you’ve made a mistake.

“There are some really good players there and players who will definitely play at a higher level.

“Obviously Robbo will be and the two from Bristol Rovers, Tom Parkes and Lee Brown, they were really good players.”