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George Taft will be welcomed back at Bolton Wanderers

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse

George Taft makes his return to Bolton Wanderers tonight with Ian Evatt insisting there are no hard feelings about his time at the club.

Big things were expected of the former Cambridge United defender when he joined the Whites on a free transfer in the summer but his time at the UniBol was largely spent looking on from the bench.

Taft made just five starts for Evatt before being loaned out to Scunthorpe United, a move which was made permanent in January.

The 27-year-old’s excellent form for the Iron had some Bolton fans questioning the decision to allow him to leave but with Ricardo Santos and Alex Baptiste now hitting their stride in the last few weeks the clamour has died down.

Evatt reiterated that there was no bad blood between him and the defender during his time at Bolton.

“George is a fantastic lad and things just didn’t work out for him here,” he said. “Sometimes that happens in football and we had a lot of competition for places. The team was suffering for poor results and we had to make decisions to let people go to get others in and strengthen elsewhere, George was one of those people. “I am pleased to see he’s done well since he went to Scunthorpe and we’ll welcome him back, shake hands and wish him the best – obviously not during 90 minutes – but we want him to go and have a fantastic career.”

Wanderers are looking to put four wins together for only the second time in four years and knowing Neil Cox’s Iron are hoping to add a fifth straight victory to their list, Evatt is under no illusion that it will be a fiercely competitive game.

“We are in a really good place, a confident place, we respect the opposition as we always do, we’ll do our due diligence, we’ll study them,” he said. “But as I’ve said before, it’s about what we do and I have firm belief in my players and the squad of players that I’ve got that whoever I pick that if we perform to our capabilities and ability, we’ll win the game, it’s as simple as that.”

Two other ex-Bolton players will be returning in Scunthorpe colours.

Both Mark Howard and Jem Karacan featured in Phil Parkinson’s promotion-winning side in 2016/17 and have since reunited at Glanford Park.

Cox – himself an ex-Bolton defender – believes they will have an extra motivation.

“We’re looking forward to the test,” he said. “They’re on a good run of form and so are we.

“I’m looking forward to a good challenge. They’ll be looking for automatic promotion and we want to keep climbing up the league. We’re going to concentrate on what we’re going to do and we have to keep the ball a bit better than we did on Saturday.

“We’re fresh and ready to go. I spent nearly three years at that football club and Mark (Howard), Jem (Karacan) and (George) Taft have all been there. They will all want to do well going back there.”

Peter Kioso’s goal separated the two sides back in November but Cox believes his team has evolved in the last few months.

“We’re a better side now than we were then,” he said. “We are more organised and we’re a bit fitter. We have more belief in the side too. Then, we changed our formation to combat them which worked at the time, but we didn’t have enough belief in front of goal. Now we look like we’re going to score goals and defensively we are doing quite well at the moment, so hopefully we can continue that.”


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