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Evatt faces dilemma as Declan John returns from illness against Ipswich

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse

Evatt faces dilemma as Declan John returns from illness against Ipswich 12985366

Declan John will be fit for Wanderers’ trip to Ipswich Town on Saturday – giving Ian Evatt a big decision to make on the left side of his defence.

The Welshman has recovered from the illness which kept him out of the Papa John’s trophy win against Port Vale and the 0-0 draw at home to Burton on Monday night.

But with Liam Gordon drawing widespread praise for his performances since coming into the side, Evatt prepares to make a big call as the Whites go in search of a first win at Portman Road in 20 years.

Asked about John’s fitness ahead of Ipswich, Evatt added: “He’s fine, I should think he will be back shortly.”

The choice for the Bolton boss is not straightforward.

Gordon’s improvement has been clear since returning in pre-season, and the 22-year-old has helped to keep four clean sheets in the five games he has started in league and cup.

John’s campaign has been also affected by a hip problem picked up at AFC Wimbledon but the former Rangers and Cardiff City man does have experience on his side, and was a big part of the team which won promotion from League Two last season.

Gordon spent the first half of 2021 on loan at Dagenham and Redbridge in the National League and Evatt believes his game has progressed since returning to the club.

“Liam is another lad that has taken on board everything from the start of last season - to go out and get your head down and work hard to improve. Men’s football has helped him, he’s a young player.

“That back four against Burton, you’ve got Gethin 25, Rico 25, George Johnston 22, and Liam Gordon 21 - that’s a young back four, but we’ve got some talented players and Liam has also listened, he’s also developing all the time.

“I have no problems with Liam defensively because he is athletic, he is strong. We just need to add the Declan John style attacking full-back and attacking play and his final third stuff.”

Gordon had initially struggled at Bolton, featuring regularly in the club’s inconsistent start in League Two.

At the stage he was loaned back out to his former club the chances of him becoming a regular for Bolton in the third tier looked remote – but Evatt says the young defender should be credited for coming back this summer a more confident proposition.

“The biggest thing for me with Liam has always been his self-belief and it is knowing that he can and telling himself that he can do it regardless of levels,” he said.

“Reputations are just names on the back of shirts, they mean nothing, you have to go and earn reputations by playing well and Liam is a very good football player and has lots of attributes to be a top player and it is now about learning, staying grounded and keep improving and he’s doing that at the moment.”


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