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Bolton Wanderers prepared to bide their time on contract decisions

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse

Bolton Wanderers will not be rushing into contract negotiations until they get a clearer idea of which division they will be in next season.

Ricardo Santos last week penned a new two-year deal which will keep him at the University of Bolton Stadium until the summer of 2023.

But although some of Ian Evatt’s signings are out of contract in June, the Bolton manager says the defender is the exception – for now – and the rest will be dealt with in due course with regards to whether they stay or go.

“Obviously it’s a really awkward time because we still have huge aspirations of being in a higher division, but I don’t think we’re in any sort of rush,” said Evatt.

“Rico was obviously a rush because he’s becoming a real big asset of ours and we have to make sure we’re protective with our assets.

“But the other ones, we are starting to have conversations, no doubt. Between ourselves, myself and Chris Markham (technical performance director), direct to the rest of the staff, we’re getting a broad idea of what we’re going to do.

“But we’re certainly not in any sort of position to move forward with that yet.”

Of Evatt’s signings following his appointment as Keith Hill’s successor last July, eight signed one-year deals. The rest are either tied to longer contracts or are on loan, while there are players that Evatt inherited who are also out of contract this summer.

But with 12 games to go – starting with this afternoon’s trip to Port Vale – and plenty to play for as Wanderers go into the game seventh and just four points off the automatic promotion places, Evatt is prepared to bide his time and see where the season takes them.

And he feels the players are responding to the incentive.

“I must say at the minute I’m delighted with all the players, I’m over the moon with them all, because they’ve really come together,” said the Bolton boss.

“They’ve all been criticised and rightly so at times this season, but the spirit in camp and the culture around the training ground, the way they’re going about their work day to day is excellent and that goes for the loan players too. Marcus (Maddison), Dapo (Afolayan) and Zak (Elbouzedi), who is out of it at the minute, Jacko (Ben Jackson), Declan (John), they’ve all bought in to what we’re trying to do here.”

And Evatt is sure there will be opportunities for everyone to have an impact.

“They’ve all been fantastic, and yes, we know they’re all going to play a huge part in this run-in,” he said.

“There’s going to be a moment for them all, whether you’re Andrew Tutte, who hasn’t got on recently, or Brandon Comley, Ryan Delaney, Zak, I still believe that in these 12 games there are going to be key moments for all of those players.

“There’s going to be a point that we’re going to need every single one of them in a key moment to step up to the plate and that’s what they need to keep themselves focused on and motivated for.”


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