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Ian Evatt rests key men ahead of big Bradford City clash

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse

Ian Evatt hopes the option of bringing some of his key players off for a rest in last night’s victory against Oldham Athletic will pay dividends in Saturday’s big Roses clash at Bradford City.

Kieran Lee, Dapo Afolayan, Eoin Doyle and Nathan Delfouneso were afforded some time to put their feet up at the Whites coasted home at 2-0 up against 10 men at Boundary Park.

Evatt has continued to rotate his attacking quartet in recent weeks and could yet throw Marcus Maddison, Shaun Miller, Lloyd Isgrove or Arthur Gnahoua in from the start at the weekend. But the Bolton boss admits the option of going again with the same side has been made easier by the manner of victory against the Latics.

“I think so,” he said. “I think we took our foot off the gas because I think we all felt that the game was over. I was able to make a few changes with Nathan, Dapo, Doyler, Kieran to protect him and that gives the other lads an opportunity to get some minutes but also rest their legs for Saturday.”

Only Manchester City have a longer winning streak than Bolton in English football at the moment, although Saturday’s opponents Bradford have also rejuvenated their season with an impressive five-match run.

Evatt remains steadfast in his opinion that the team is not yet playing at its peak, however, and he has challenged his players to up their game again at Valley Parade.

“I think we’re a good team, but I don’t think we’re a very good or a great team yet,” he said. “We’ve got lots of work to do.

“We’re starting to get respect off the opposition, we’re getting good results but I mean what I say, I still think there’s more to come. I still think there’s another gear there and we have to find another way to get that out of us.”

Considering a third of last night’s matchday squad were only signed last month, the progress Evatt has achieved in the last month has been quite astounding.

While his squad appeared to struggle with aspects of his game-plan in the first half of the season, changes in personnel and some tactical tweaks have given supporters hope that a fight for promotion is on the cards, be it automatic or play-offs.

Evatt hopes performances can improve further once he is able to add some finer details on the training ground.

“It’s a process,” he said. “We can’t just rock up with a whole new philosophy, style and identity and crack it overnight. It takes time to build those things and we’re six or seven months into a bigger, larger project.

“There’s been vast improvement since January, of course, but there’s still lots more to come and lots more to work on. Some of our combination play, our rotation and passing patterns can improve and get slicker. We’ve seen glimpses of that but there’s lots more to come definitely lots more to come, which is exciting.”


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