This piece is from yesterday's Buddies Briefing newsletter, which is emailed out at 6pm every Thursday. To receive our full, free St Mirren newsletter straight to your email inbox, click here.

I'll admit, I had some reservations when James Bolton first arrived in Paisley.

Two years had passed in the big centre-back's career since he last played upwards of 20 matches in a single season.

In the year before checking in at St Mirren, he played just eight times.

It's not exactly the consistency and dependability you desperately seek in a centre-back - then again, that's probably the only reason there was ever the chance to sign him.

We've all heard it countless times before, 'You've got some player...if you can keep him fit'.

Well, credit to Stephen Robinson and the backroom staff at St Mirren, they did exactly that.

No fewer than 27 outings, only missing three matchday squads in total and playing a crucial role in the defence when he properly broke into the team. It was a pretty successful season for Bolton.

It'd be far too simple then for St Mirren to keep hold of Bolton for another season with the defender under contract until next summer.

Unfortunately, Bolton's stellar performances last season didn't go unnoticed by other clubs prompting a transfer approach from Fleetwood Town.

It's frustrating, it's a disappointment but it's very good business.

Robinson has a reputation for shrewd signings and turning a profit in the transfer window. He didn't quite manage it with Ryan Strain and Keanu Baccus - but their contributions perhaps outweighed an early exit and transfer fee.

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However, with Bolton, Robinson could have magicked a six-figure transfer fee for a 29-year-old who was signed for nothing.

Take fan feeling out of the equation for a second, and £0 to £100,000 (minimum) speaks for itself in the balance sheet.

You'd be hard-pressed to find a St Mirren supporter actively pushing for a transfer exit for Bolton but when all is considered - including the possibility the player would prefer a return to England - it just makes sense.

The only issue, then, is where does a possible exit for Bolton leave Robinson and his squad ahead of the new season?

Alex Gogic, Marcus Fraser and Richard Taylor would likely be the preferred central three defenders heading into the new season.

Then you'd turn attention to Luke Kenny and Gallagher Lennon who both appear to be sticking around in Paisley.

Beyond that, you could perhaps shoehorn Shaun Rooney into a wide centre-back slot with Oisin Smyth also having experience in the role albeit being more effective in a midfield berth.

Mark O'Hara could drop deeper too, but that'd almost certainly be more destructive than productive in the balance of the team.

Should Bolton's proposed switch down south go through then Robinson would almost certainly have to dip back into the market for a replacement.

And with more than a few pennies made on Bolton, there would be room to manoeuvre and add reinforcements to the backline.

Far from a crisis, a bid for Bolton proves the St Mirren recruitment model is working - Robinson just needs to capitalise on it.


St Mirren begin their pre-season fixture list properly this weekend - 4-0 triumph over local Spanish team aside - with a trip to face Dunfermline.

It'll then be a trip to Renfrewshire rivals Greenock Morton on Tuesday.

While it's exciting to see the side back in action - particularly when a derby contest is on the cards - it's important to caveat friendly results.

Last summer started with a whimper and being put to the sword by a certain TikTok trialist - it ended in European qualification.

Friendly results do not matter.


It was a bitter blow to discover Conor McMenamin's injury setback with the winger set to undergo surgery.

The only relief comes in the knowledge his time is not up in Paisley, rather that he'll be sidelined through injury for a period.

A significant transfer signing last summer, McMenamin grew into his role in Paisley and would have remained a key figure but for his injury.

Should he miss the UEFA Conference League second qualifying round through the issue then it's only be reasonable for his team-mates to progress to give him another chance at featuring in the competition, right?