Bolton Wanderers boss Ian Evatt on facing Portsmouth, Wigan Athletic reflections & injury issues


Bolton Wanderers are aiming to return to winning ways at home when they host Portsmouth.

Wanderers return to the University of Bolton Stadium tomorrow evening when they take on Pompey in a game which has been rearranged to an 8pm kick-off due to the international break.

It is an encounter between two sides sitting midtable in League One with both sides sitting 11 points from the play-offs, with both sides harbouring now slim hopes of reaching the top six by the end of April.

READ MORE:Dempsey, Afolayan, John & Lee injury update ahead of Bolton Wanderers taking on Portsmouth

It is a key fixture in that sense with the side which emerges victorious still at least in the conversation, with the one tasting defeat surely out of it.

Before the game, Wanderers boss Ian Evatt has spoken to the press and here’s what he has had to say to broadcasters on the match, reflecting on the point against Wigan Athletic, and the present injury situation heading into the encounter.

How’s the situation with knocks and injuries?

“I think we’re okay. Kyle Dempsey had a bit of a knock, Dapo Afolayan has a bit of a knock, but other than that I think we’re okay. We’ll have to look at those two for tomorrow, but other than that we’re alright.”

Any positive developments regarding Declan John?

“He still has that back injury so that’s as far as it goes.”

Looking back at Wigan, it was good to see the players self policing after the first 30 minutes and the consensus seems to be that if the game had gone on a few more minutes, Bolton would have gone on to get all three points in that game?

“The first half an hour, we did nothing. We didn’t compete, we didn’t challenge, we didn’t win duels, first contacts, second phases, and then on the other flip side of that, we weren’t ourselves in possession either.

“We looked a bit like a rabbit in the headlights really and then, as I said after the game, I think the goal took some pressure off in some ways and then the last 10 to 15 minutes of the first half we gained some control and then on the back of that gained some confidence. Also, we found some aggression and we felt a bit hard done to with the decisions and then second half, I thought it was chalk and cheese really.

“We came out and we dictated and dominated and we have waves of pressure. There was very few chances in the game but we looked like we were going to create something and then Jon pops up with a wonderful header and I think five or 10 minutes more, we’d have probably gone on to win it. Kieran (Sadlier) had a chance after that and I think he also missed a kick with a cutback from Gethin (Jons).

“Five or 10 minutes more, I think we’d have gone on to win it because I think that they were out on their feet and it ends up a better point for them than it did for us.

“Mixed emotions really – a game I think we could have won and should have won had we performed to our levels, but also some positives the way we wrestled back control in the game and also looking forwards to the future, if that’s the benchmark then we’ve not got very far to go. We know with another transfer window we’re going to be even stronger.

“This group is developing all the time so things are looking really good.”

What have you learnt from your own players upon watching the game versus Wigan back?

“Exactly what I saw in the first viewing and that doesn’t always happen like that. It’s not always the case. Sometimes when you feel you’ve played really well and you watch it back, you’ve not always played as well as you thought and sometimes when you think you’ve played really poorly, it’s not been as poor as you think.

“Saturday when I watched it back was as poor as I thought in the first 30 minutes and then after that, I thought we were a lot better. It was exactly what I thought, but what I would say is I’m disappointed that we haven’t won it because I think the opportunity was there.”

How interesting is it going to be for the likes of Jon Dadi Bodvarsson, Kyle Dempsey and a couple of others when new faces will inevitably come in during the summer months? How important do you think the players that are fresh to the squad right now are going to be when it comes to the summer?

“I think that’s a really good point and one that I’ve touched on this morning. I think as a professional football player and one like plays for such a big club and a progressive club and a club that are looking to improve, you have to expect that there’s going to be incomings and every season I remember as a player, managers would bring in new defenders, new centre backs every summer and you have to back yourself to be better than them and play. It’s simple.

“Teams aren’t picked on pre-season, teams aren’t picked from recruitment data. Teams are picked on what you produce day in, day out and what you produce on Saturdays and Tuesday nights.

“Every day is an opportunity to impress the manager, every single day, and that’s not just matchdays, it’s every training day. You’ve got an opportunity to go out there and show the manager why you should be in the team and that’s the attitude they all have to have, and if they’ve got that attitude, I can only pick 11 but we’re going to be a really strong group and a really strong squad.

“I think the character and the dynamic of the dressing room is miles better than what it was earlier on this season. I’m really pleased with where it is and that will only improve and develop from there.”

For Portsmouth and like Bolton, their margin for error is so tiny for the play-offs. What do you think they’ll have to offer based on how the meeting went earlier this season?

“It’s hard to really go off the meeting earlier this season because I think we were a patched up team out of form and we still lost the game on an odd goal and a mistake I believe.

“I think this is a completely different game. I think both teams have been in good form. Both teams have picked up since the return of the year. Portsmouth have some very good players, some very good attacking players.

“They’ll ask us questions, but I must reemphasise that it’s not really about them. We give them respect of course but it’s about what we do and if we get to the levels that I know we can get to, like the second half on Saturday, then we’ll be more than a match for every team in this league.

“But it’s more about our own focus and being the best version of ourselves and if we can be that, then I believe we can beat anybody.”

Is Declan John out?

“Yes I would think he’ll be missing.”

Is Kieran Lee back?

“I think Kieran is probably going to be another week or so as well. We don’t really want to rush him and his heel around where the incision was made is still quite sore when he puts his boot on, so it’s going to take a little bit longer.

“We’ve had it rescanned this week and there’s nothing sinister going on. It’s healing really well, it’s just a time thing, so we just have to be a little bit more patient with him and give him a bit more time.

“I think that’s kind of where we’re at now just to make sure we’re rehabbing these players, they’re given the time they need to come back 100 per cent. There’s no real need to be taking chances with anybody.”

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