Wanderers are planning to overhaul their reserve team structure for a second successive summer, Ian Evatt has confirmed.
Concerns have been raised over the quality of pathway for Under-18s players to senior level after a problematic season playing back in the Central League.
Injury problems in the first team have forced several fixture postponements and left Wanderers looking for other options, including the introduction of a separate B Team or Under-23s development squad.
It is understood that the club are also considering reinstating the role of reserve team or development squad coach, last held by David Lee.
Evatt insists that no firm decisions have been made, and much could yet rest on which division Bolton find themselves in next season. But the Whites boss admits the current team – which has been overseen by first team coach Sam Hird – has struggled to get off the ground.
“There is a lot of planning and conversations going on behind the scenes,” he said. “There is a huge gulf between the under-18s and the first team, and that gap is only getting bigger because the first team is improving all the time.
“How do we bridge that gap? We have some real bright talents in that under-18s that literally are not ready to play for the first-team yet, but in two or three years they might well be, so where do they go right now? At the moment they have nowhere.
“It’s been really challenging this season because, yes we have had the reserves but with the amount of injuries and the condensed nature of the fixture list, it has been really difficult to pick strong teams.
“What I will say is it is probably going to be different again next season to what it has been this season.”
Evatt believes the second string needs to be its own entity, as opposed to a team which only come together in midweek for a matchday.
“It needs to be their own training group, it needs to have their own manager, they need to be coached the same way as I coach and then all of a sudden, that gap will become shorter,” he said. “But there are lots of conversations going on and we will see what happens, but I would think it would be a lot different next season.”
Wanderers have loaned out a few of their younger professionals this season, including Adam Senior – who is currently at Chorley – Ronan Darcy (Queen’s Park), Luke Hutchinson and Matt Alexander.
Getting the right club, admits Evatt is not always easy.
“We want them to go to clubs who play a certain way, not mirror us, but be that style,” he said.
“But the problem we have is those clubs want to train all the time as well and we want the players to be in with us and having the education with us day to day, but they can’t do both.
“They can’t have that education and go and train for them and go and play as they’ll just burn out.
“The best way to do it is to have maybe an under-23s or a B team and then the ones that are progressing and doing well that we don’t quite feel are ready for the first team then to go out on loan, but for now it’s about bridging that gap between under-18s and first-team football.”