With Anthony Stewart’s move to Aberdeen being confirmed, the boots to replace the ever-reliable centre back will need to be up for the challenge.

The 29-year-old was one of the first names on Gareth Ainsworth’s team sheet, playing 42 times for the Light and Dark Blue Army last season in all competitions.

He was an integral part of Wycombe’s promotion push as the Chairboys booked a place in the League One play-off final, only to lose 2-0 against Sunderland in the Wembley showpiece.

But his decision to not renew his contract in order to move north of the English border means Wanderers are now looking to replace the defender.

READ MORE: Antony Stewart leaves Wanderers for Aberdeen - What next for Wycombe as the new season approaches?

And whilst there are many options to explore Stewart’s successor, there could be a solution closer to home.

The 2022/23 season could be the year that Chris Forino cements his place as a first-time regular at the heart of Wycombe’s defence.

Chris Forino in action against Charlton Athletic on Januray 1, 2022. Wanderers won 1-0 which was their first-ever win in the league at the Valley (PA)

Chris Forino in action against Charlton Athletic on January 1, 2022. Wanderers won 1-0 which was their first-ever win in the league at the Valley (PA)

Of course, there will be new faces arriving at Adams Park this summer, there is no denying that, but if Forino shows his worth as he did last season, there is nothing to suggest that he can’t be one of the most important names on Ainsworth’s team sheet.

Arriving as a free agent in April 2021 following his choice to drop out of university, the centre back made his debut for the Chairboys in the 3-1 home defeat against the Aston Villa Under 21 side in the Football League Trophy in August of that year.

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He played the full 90 minutes in the cup defeat and after excelling in development matches under the stewardship of Sam Grace, he was drafted into the starting 11 for Wanderers’ 2-2 draw against Hartlepool United in the FA Cup, which is where he scored his first-ever professional goal.

Another appearance in the EFL Trophy followed before a lengthy spell as a League One starter soon followed.

From his league debut against Burton Albion in December 2021 to his final appearance of the campaign against Sheffield Wednesday in April, Forino played in 15 League One matches starting 13 of those games.

He only came off the bench twice in that time, and failed to complete 90 minutes just once as a starter, which was in the 1-0 away defeat against Ipswich Town at the end of December.

READ MORE: "A no brainer": Former Wycombe Wanderers keeper's first words with Owls

Described by Gareth Ainsworth as a ‘raw talent’, in the matches that he started he showed he is capable of not being afraid to get stuck in and make his presence known when facing the opposition.

In fact, in the last five matches he played for Wycombe at the back end of the last season, he was achieving an average score of just over 7/10 from www.fotmob.com, which saw him keep two clean sheets.

He is also a good attacking threat in the air, as both of his goals so far for the Chairboys have come via his head.

It will not be a shock to see a few new faces at Adams Park this summer, especially in the defence with Stewart now leaving, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this university dropout turned footballer becomes a popular name in League One next season.