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Bolton Nuts » BWFC » Bolton Wanderers News » Ian Evatt assesses future of Bolton Wanderers' loan contingent

Ian Evatt assesses future of Bolton Wanderers' loan contingent

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse

The future of Wanderers’ loanees depends almost entirely on what division the club is in next season.

Ian Evatt has made no secret of his desire to keep Dapo Afolayan and Declan John at the UniBol beyond the end of the season having dipped into the loan market heavily in January.

Injured John’s replacement on Saturday Ben Jackson returned after two months on the sidelines to score the winner at Morecambe and Zack Elbouzedi has developed an increasing role as an impact substitute late in games.

But with promotion within their grasp against Exeter this afternoon, Evatt knows the Whites will have to get that business out of the way first before firming up the futures of their temporary additions.

“We will take each case separately after Saturday when hopefully the job is done,” the Wanderers boss said.

“We have not made any calls yet because it is impossible to do so until we know what division we are in.

“It could change loads next season on the quality and standard of player you are offered, and there have already been lots of talks on that.

“We have some good plans already in motion.”

Welshman John, in line to return from a dead leg against the Grecians today, is chief among the list of players fans want to see extend his stint at the club into next season and beyond.

The Swansea man is a free agent in the summer but having shown the quality that saw him play for Cardiff, Rangers and win seven senior international caps for his country, the 25-year-old is likely to have plenty of suitors.

“We’ve stated that we’d like to keep him,” Evatt said.

“The decision will come down fundamentally to what division we’re in and Declan.

“One thing I can say is that he’s loved it here.”

While some have grabbed more headlines than others, West Ham forward Afolayan another firmly in the fans’ favourite category, Evatt insists all his loan players deserve recognition for what they done to help the Whites rise from the doldrums of League Two to a potential place in League One next season.

That even applies to Lukas Jensen, the towering Burnley goalkeeper who has not made an appearance and at times not even made the bench given Evatt’s preference for having attacking players among his substitutes where possible.

“They have all played a part,” the Bolton boss said.

“We haven’t seen Lukas yet because Matt (Gilks) has been in exceptional form but he is a very good young goalkeeper and I wouldn’t hesitate putting him in the team.

“We have seen what young Jacko (Jackson) can do and he was great last week.

“Zack has grown into it. He has got a real turbo charged engine, you can see how quick he is, it is just about refining that raw pace into what is a complete footballer in that position.”

For Evatt, Jackson epitomised what he wants to see from his fringe players at Morecambe last time out. The Huddersfield left back had not featured for the Whites since the reverse fixture against the Shrimps in February and was making just his fifth appearance for the club.

Aside from his match-winning strike in first-half stoppage time, the 20-year-old put in a man-of-the-match display with John ruled out and could easily have had more than his one goal.

“That’s what I’ve said to them all along and I think I’ve mentioned it in our press conferences a couple of times – the lads out of the team are really important for a lot of reasons,” Evatt said.

“One, they have to keep driving the standards and driving the ones in team. And two, you never know when you’re going to get your opportunity and it can come in the blink of an eye.

“That happened for Ben last weekend and because of how he’s trained and because he’s kept himself focused and on the job at hand, he performed brilliantly and won it, so credit to him.”

Jackson’s sharpness was helped by being allowed to feature for his parent club’s development squad during his time out of the side.

“That was our call really because we haven’t got an Under-23s and friendlies,” Evatt added.

“We decided to allow him to carry on playing while he wasn’t starting for us, to keep up with his match fitness, so good for all parties.”


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