Bolton Wanderers are set for another season in League One after suffering play-off heartbreak against Oxford United on Saturday.

The Trotters went into the 2023/24 season being among the favourites, not only for promotion but also for winning the League One title.

Ian Evatt’s team lived up to those expectations with their start, but with form dipping in and out, it became clear that Portsmouth were going to take some stopping.

It was then down to Bolton and Derby to get the second automatic spot, but the Whites missed out on that to the Rams and had to settle for the play-offs.

Again, the club went into those favourites to succeed and lived up to that as they got past Barnsley over two legs. But then they were unable to get past Oxford United in the final, with the Us winning 2-0 and claiming their spot in next season’s Championship.

There will be a lot of disappointment around Bolton right now, with them failing to seal promotion, meaning plans could be affected by what the club wanted to do in the transfer window.

But it could also mean that they may be unable to keep hold of one or two key players for next season, with defender Ricardo Santos likely to be one who could head to the exit door.

Ricardo Santos’ situation at Bolton Wanderers

Ricardo Santos

Ricardo Santos has been with Bolton Wanderers since 2020, when he joined the club on a free transfer after leaving Barnet.

The defender was mightily impressive in his three years with Barnet after joining them from Peterborough United.

The 28-year-old instantly became a firm fixture in Bolton’s starting XI, playing in all 46 League Two games as the club sealed promotion to League One.

Since that season, Santos has played more or less every game he has been available for, with the last couple of seasons seeing him miss games through injury.

The Portuguese defender has shown great strides forward with the Trotters, becoming their captain and being key in them being in the play-offs in the last two seasons.

It was reported by James Nursey before the League One play-off final that Bolton could lose Santos this summer, even if the club reaches the Championship.

Now that seems even more likely, given that the club is still in League One and Santos has just 12 months remaining on his contract.