Ian Evatt has branded James McClean’s claim that Bolton Wanderers tried to sign him before moving to Wigan Athletic as “completely false”.
The Whites boss was asked about potential interest in the Republic of Ireland winger after his side’s 2-1 win against Oxford United at the UniBol this afternoon.
McClean fanned the flames of local rivalry in an interview on Friday where he claimed he has passed up Bolton’s interest in favour of a return to the Latics.
“I heard the quotes and I find it very amusing,” Evatt responded.
“If that is the case then he needs to communicate with his agent, because he didn’t stop ringing me for three weeks after I’d told him no.
“That’s the nature of the beast, it is what it is. We read what he had to say, we smiled and laughed, and maybe there’s a communication issue with the agent because after I’d told him no, he carried on ringing. Obviously, Bolton can’t be too bad to play for.”
Asked to clarify if Bolton had approached McClean – who had been training with Stoke City’s Under-23s and looking for a move elsewhere – Evatt produced another unequivocal statement.
“We were never interested in James McClean,” he said.
“It was his agent trying to get him to us and whether they have used us to try and get a better deal out of Wigan, I don’t know. That is sometimes the case.
“To come out and make a statement like that… It is false. Completely false.
“His agent was ringing my phone off the hook.”
McClean, 32, had told Wigan Today and BBC Radio Manchester last week that he picked Wigan ahead of Bolton because of his affinity for the club.
"I know Bolton were interested but having been here before as a Wigan player, there was never, ever any chance I was going to entertain that," he said.
"I'll be completely honest, the only reason I entertained coming to League One was solely for Wigan.
"League One wasn't something that interested me but I said to my agent from day one - when I found out Wigan were interested - I'd rather go to Wigan, a club that means a lot to me, than a club lower in the Championship.
"The Bolton one, for a lot of reasons, wasn't something I was going to take interest in.”
The two teams meet at the DW Stadium on Tuesday night in the second round of the Carabao Cup.