WHEN the Sky Bet League One season drew to a close at the end of last month, many will have had Bolton Wanderers as their favourite to win the play-offs.

The Trotters took the automatic promotion race to the final day of the campaign, were play-off semi-finalists last season, and won last year’s EFL Trophy.

If Oxford United are to clinch a return to the second tier of English football for the first time in more than two decades, it is Ian Evatt’s side who they must overcome.

We spoke to Not The Top 20 podcast co-host (and U’s fan) George Elek to get the lowdown on the Trotters.

READ ALSO: Looking back on Oxford United’s previous trips to Wembley

What are Bolton’s strengths and weaknesses?

In terms of their strengths, there are quite a few, and it’s a very strong starting XI on paper. Nathan Baxter is one of the best goalkeepers in the league, while Ricardo Santos and Eoin Toal at centre back are very good.

Josh Sheehan and Paris Maghoma are key in midfield, and with Maghoma on loan from Brentford, the sense is that this could be his last game for Bolton, so he’ll want to go out on a high.

The wing backs are important to the way Bolton play, and in strikers Dion Charles and Aaron Collins, they’ve found a really good partnership up front.

Herald Series: Aaron Collins joined Bolton Wanderers from Bristol Rovers on January deadline dayAaron Collins joined Bolton Wanderers from Bristol Rovers on January deadline day (Image: Martin Rickett/ PA Wire)

They’ve also got great depth, and their ability to change things without too much of a drop-off is worrying.

It’s very hard to find any holes in the team, but Gethin Jones is one of those players at right-sided centre back, that Bolton fans might worry about, while George Thomason certainly has a yellow card in him in midfield.

What will be the key battle?

In the wide areas, it’ll be really interesting. In Oxford’s second leg against Peterborough, the home side pushed Harrison Burrows on, and Owen Dale had to keep with him in the second half.

Bolton play with their wing backs high up in a 3-5-2, so our wingers will be up against their centre backs a lot. I think we’ll see a lot of action out wide.

Ricardo Santos isn’t the quickest, and Mark Harris is rapid, while we didn’t really see Josh Murphy in full flow in the semi-finals, but at Wembley, he should be allowed to really stretch his legs.

Then it’s all about the balls in behind, and the big pitch should suit our attacking players.

The other one to point out is Oxford’s centre halves against their strikers. Both strikers pull out into wide areas, so the discipline of Elliott Moore and Ciaron Brown is going to be important.

What will the Bolton approach be?

I’m not convinced that they’ll go direct quite like they did in the first leg against Barnsley, but it’ll keep Des Buckingham guessing.

The style is aggressive, high-pressing, getting the ball out wide, and delivering to the strikers.