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He's taking the... Evatt cracks down the on Bolton training ground

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karlypants

karlypants
Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse

Ian Evatt is making sure he is the only one ‘taking the pee’ on the Bolton Wanderers training ground in the race for promotion.

As the Whites look to extend a winning run to seven games at Bradford City – which would be their best streak since leaving Burnden Park in 1997 – there has been no let-up on discipline at the club’s Lostock base.

The mood is buoyant among a group of players who had been pilloried earlier in the season for a slow start in what is only Bolton’s second season at this level of football in their entire history.

Evatt will ensure, however, that there is no scope for over-confidence as the team heads to Valley Parade to face a Bantams side which has itself been in a rich vein of form.

“Me and the staff are all over them like a rash, there’s no let up,” he told The Bolton News. “Normally with footballers you give them an inch and they will take a mile. That’s just the way they are by nature and I have been one myself.

“It’s our job to implement the standards and what we expect, day in, day out.

“Players, like me, have been through the pain and hurt this season and that is the driving force. It is probably why the over-confidence isn’t coming back in because they remember only too well where we have been this season. It gives us the drive and determination to keep it going.

“They know the rules. Off the pitch, around the training ground, we are humble, we laugh and joke. But on the grass, it is strictly business and they know that now.

“Once you step foot on the training pitch it is work-time. There’s a place for laughter and there’s a place for doing your job.

“It also helps me that we’re in lockdown and they can’t nip out to have a pint.

“But they are enjoying their work right now and they are working hard too.”

Evatt strengthened his squad in January by bringing in Marcus Maddison, Kieran Lee, Declan John, Ben Jackson, MJ Williams, Dapo Afolayan, Lukas Jensen and Zack Elbouzedi but has also managed to clear his treatment room of minor injuries – something he puts down to daily tests on the players’ liquid intake.

“In January we started monitoring urine day-to-day to test the hydration levels,” he said. “We don’t allow them to train unless they are full hydrated and that has really worked for us so far. We haven’t had any problems since then because the players are looking after themselves really well and giving themselves the best chance to make sure they are in the best condition they can be in.”

Evatt is looking forward to later this month when he will have some free midweek days to work more closely with the squad and fine-tune some of the tactical details, along with ensuring nobody burns out.

“We have GPS data to monitor the players’ load from day-to-day but it goes back to my point about improving on the training pitch,” he said. “We haven’t had a lot of time – it has been play-recover-play-recover and their educational time on the grass is shortened by the schedule. We can only really do it by video analysis but even that is limited because of the pandemic.

“We are learning on the job. All teams have the same problems but thanks to the window we have just had and the players’ fitness levels at the moment, their robustness, we have strength in depth.”

Evatt is well aware that Bradford’s new management duo, Mark Trueman and Conor Sellars, have masterminded their own revolution since taking over from Stuart McCall.

“I think normally when you have a change in management, normally you get a short term boost,” he said. “But theirs hasn’t been short term, it’s been sustained over a period now and credit to them.

“When players start winning you get belief and confidence and you get yourself on a roll, like we’re on a roll at the moment. It’s going to be a real tough game but I’m hoping that we can maintain our run and put an end to theirs.”

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