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Ian Evatt concerned over fixture pile-up in League Two

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse

The old adage ‘every cloud has a silver lining’ seemed particularly apt in a week where Wanderers have been continually frustrated by the weather.

For while the fixtures are piling up and the room to rearrange them is running out, Ian Evatt has at least had extra time to work with his deadline day signings.

No sooner had Saturday’s referee Ben Toner picked up his ball from the boggy patches either side of the halfway line at the Peninsula Stadium on Saturday, than the Bolton players were back aboard the team bus heading for Lostock and a hastily organised training session.

Scheduling had been one of the great frustrations when the Mansfield Town game was cancelled last Tuesday at late notice, as it gave Evatt no scope to call his players immediately back in the following morning. This time, the manager was taking maximum advantage.

Marcus Maddison had been at Salford, decked out in a stylish white headband that reinforced that ‘maverick’ tag he has been given since swapping Charlton Athletic for the Whites.

He seemed to be a sure-fire starter but will now have to wait until Tuesday night to make his bow, in front of the 8,000-plus season ticket holders watching on iFollow.

Evatt – who said the decision to postpone Saturday’s game was completely correct – was looking on the bright side as he spoke to The Bolton News from his car, heading back to Lostock.

“We can have a good look at the lads today now,” he said. “We can get some more minutes into the new ones’ legs and just work on our patterns of play, so they get used to us a bit more and it gives us more of an advantage that way. But the games are piling up thick and fast so it’s not ideal."

Evatt was not for giving away his game-plan against Salford, nor divulging the details of a team-sheet which never reached the press box. But he feels the added time on the training ground could work to his advantage with high-flying Morecambe next up at the UniBol, where cancellations are relatively unheard of, thanks to the undersoil heating.

“The new signings were available,” he said. “Whether they were going to play I’m not going to reveal. But they’d had two days of training so this obviously gives us an added advantage of getting longer with them and working with them to make sure that they know exactly what I expect and there’s no grey areas.”

Be it for the weather or more serious Covid-related reasons, the fixture schedule in the lower leagues has proven a difficult one to organise of late. And Evatt is concerned that his team could be playing three games a week if the pattern continues.

“The fixture list is becoming more and more difficult to set out,” he said. “We’ve got a lack of available Tuesdays now where we’re going to have to fit this in and my fear is if we have any more and the weather forecast from what I understand is bad again this week, if we have any more postponements, then are we going to the stage where we’re going to be playing Saturday-Tuesday-Thursday? I don’t know. Hopefully not and obviously we’ve got the benefit of great facilities at the UniBol, so fingers crossed we can get these next two games on and then look at fitting in the ones that have been cancelled.”

One player who was in line to feature at Salford was wing-back Declan John.

Evatt had initially planned to start the Wales international on Saturday but two postponed games and an interrupted training schedule means Bolton fans may have to wait a little bit longer for the Swansea defender to get a start.

“The plan was for him to get more minutes today but probably not start and then get him ready for Tuesday, but obviously that’s been pushed back again,” he said. “Whether we can get that worked with him on the training pitch, we’ll try and do it, but it’s frustrating really."

Meanwhile, Tom White has signed on loan for Hartlepool United after his time at Wanderers was officially ended last week.

The Gateshead-born midfielder struggled to get into Evatt's first team and had not started a league game since November 3 when he returned to Ewood Park by mutual consent.

Returning to his native roots, the 23-year-old is now looking to get his career back on track.

“I’ve been looking at Hartlepool for a bit to be fair, it’s home for me back in the North East and every time I’ve played there I've enjoyed it.

“I wasn’t having the best of times at Bolton so when I had some contact from Hartlepool around December time, I told my agent that it’s something I’d like to get sorted."


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