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No surprises: Wanderers are prepared for Derby, Gayle and Co, says Ian Evatt

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse

No surprises: Wanderers are prepared for Derby, Gayle and Co, says Ian Evatt 17862026

Wanderers will be prepared for Dwight Gayle – and anything else Derby County can throw at them at Pride Park today.

Ian Evatt is confident his players are primed for a huge game at the top of the League One table, and what could be a pivotal weekend for the promotion race.

Paul Warne’s Derby have won their last three games, with ex-Newcastle United striker Gayle scoring in each, and are now seen as the favourites to secure second spot behind current leaders Portsmouth.

Evatt says his defenders will be ready for the 34-year-old, who was picked up on a free transfer last month following his release from Stoke City.

“Obviously we know he is a vastly experienced player with a good CV and a good career behind him,” said the Wanderers boss. “And as with every player we look into the strengths and weaknesses, their movement, where they tend to score goals, and all that information is given to the players to use. We are always diligent on the opposition.

“But in this case – and it will be the same for Warney too – we know what each other’s team is going to do. We are two teams and two managers who have our way and will stick to that no matter what. Whoever executes it best on the day will win, and that is how it should be really.”

Whilst Wanderers are without a league win on Derby soil since 1981, a couple of months before Evatt was born, the Bolton boss has only been back with the club on one previous occasion, a 2-1 defeat last January.

“We didn’t play very well on that day, and we will own that,” Evatt said. “We are hopeful that we will play better on Saturday.

“As I said, there are no secrets from either team. We are not going to rock up and there will be huge differences from what they have done in recent weeks.

“We have learned lessons and we will always do that, they will be the same.

“I have rewatched the home game here and Derby’s last five games. It is going to be tough, they ask you a lot of questions in and out of possession. But it will be tough for them as well and that is the mindset we have to have.”

Evatt came through the system at Derby from the age of 11 to make his professional debut on May 19, 2001. A couple of days earlier, Sam Allardyce’s Bolton had beaten West Brom 3-0 in the play-off semi-final, earning the right to face Preston North End for a place in the Premier League.

“It is a brilliant club with a huge, loyal fanbase,” Evatt said. “They gave me my football education and I was there from 11 to 22, working under some brilliant people who have had an effect on my entire life, not just my football career. I have a lot to thank Derby for and a lot of respect for them. But at 3pm on Saturday that ends and we will be doing our best to win and get three points.

“Once the game is over the respect button gets pushed again and I am back to feeling thankful for the chance they gave me in this brilliant industry.

“Nobody will want to win that game more than me.”


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