Ian Evatt believes summer signing Amadou Bakayoko is setting the standards for Wanderers at the start of the season.
The Bolton boss praised his striker for turning the game against Barnsley in midweek and now hopes his physical style can come in handy at Wimbledon this weekend.
Evatt’s men make their first-ever trip to the Dons’ new Plough Lane home looking to put a win on the board in League One.
Bakayoko’s all-action performances in the opening two games have caught the fans’ attention – but his manager insists he is much more than a target man.
“As a professional footballer, the bare minimum is to give 110 per cent, whatever you do every day, whether that’s on the training ground or in the stadiums on matchdays,” he said. “Baka does that and he’s a great example to the young players, how to train every day and what you do on the pitch.
“He is just a handful to play against, but what I will say is his technical ability is undervalued as well. He can hold the play up, he can link play, some lovely bits of link up play in the second half (against Barnsley) and because he is so physically dominant, the ball doesn’t come straight back and it is able to stay up there.”
Evatt was pleased with a solid 90 minutes from the returning Ricardo Santos on Tuesday night as the big defender continued his recovery from Covid and an injured foot.
"He’s still not fit yet," admitted the Bolton boss. "He is gaining confidence, gaining fitness all of the time.
"Rico is a Rolls Royce, he has got everything, and he can be whatever he wants to be. He has just got to stay switched on and stay humble and keep working hard every day.”
Wanderers should have Declan John back from a minor knock for Saturday, leaving Evatt with only Xavier Amaechi and Liam Edwards on the casualty list.
Having made six changes for the Barnsley clash he now has some big decisions to make at Plough Lane, both in the centre of his defence - where Santos will be pressing to start - and in goal, where Joel Dixon's midweek heroics give him a claim on Matt Gilks's spot.
“I’m really pleased," Evatt said. "It’s not just about the ones that have played today or on Saturday, there’s lads that are on the bench that still haven’t been used that have done well in pre-season.
"There are lads that haven’t even made the squad and they have got to stick with it and stay together. It is a long season and we are going to need everybody if we are going to achieve what we want to achieve, so let’s stay positive and keep going.”