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Ian Evatt on potential return of second-string football

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse

Wanderers will be bringing back second-string football to the University of Bolton Stadium next season.

Ian Evatt is discussing a plan to install another tier of fixtures to ensure younger professionals and fringe first-team players get more competitive football.

It was announced at the start of 2020 that there would be no Under-23s team, due to the club downgrading its academy to a category three.

The much-vaunted football department restructure had included a plan to run friendly fixtures and assemble a secondary squad but they were dashed by the pandemic, with safety protocols and bubbles on

training grounds making it complicated to travel and also wrecking the non-league scene.

Wanderers had run a reserve team for 99 years before the Under-23s’ season was halted prematurely and had won the league title in the Central League or its equivalent on four occasions.

Evatt organised a bounce match at Lostock against Blackburn Rovers on Tuesday to give game time to the likes of Harry Brockbank, Lukas Jensen and Brandon Comley.

And after the success of that fixture he admitted there were plans in the works for something similar to be in place regularly for the 2021/22 campaign.

“It’s absolutely something we are looking into,” he said. “Whether it’s an Under-23s, a B Team or a Reserves, or whatever, it is certainly something I am looking into for next year.”

Meanwhile, Wanderers’ in-form first team go to Bradford today looking to string a seventh league victory together for the first time since Colin Todd’s side secured promotion to the Premier League in 1997 with a victory at Manchester City.

Coincidentally, City are the only team with a longer winning streak in English football right now and Evatt is looking to Pep Guardiola’s men for inspiration on how to keep his own run going.

“Winning games consecutively at any level of football is really challenging and really difficult,” he said. “You have to enjoy those moments, but also not take it for granted.

“The best thing about Manchester City is their hunger and desire to carry on, to run and run, week on week, and keep performing at the same levels.

“It’s not always with the same quality but the same level of commitment. I think that’s been true about ourselves as well.

“We’ve won games where we haven’t necessarily played that great but our commitment and work ethic has been there throughout the run - long may that continue.

“We have got a great game to look forward to on Saturday but nobody here is getting carried away or ahead of ourselves.”


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