Ian Evatt believes Bolton Wanderers face a benchmark in where they stand for promotion out of League One in the future when they take on Wigan Athletic tomorrow and will be an indication of how far they have come as a team.
Wanderers make the short journey to the DW Stadium to take on the Latics this weekend in League One.
The 12.30pm kick-off sees automatic promotion chasing Wigan take on a Bolton side sitting midtable and with slim play-off hopes.
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And Wanderers will be seeking to avenge the heavy 4-0 loss they suffered at the hands of Leam Richardson’s side in October as the Latics will be seeking to do the double over the Whites.
The game is a local derby and some 4,000 Wanderers fans will be making the journey to the DW Stadium tomorrow as Wanderers seek to keep their play-off hopes alive.
Wigan are well placed to achieve automatic promotion back to the Championship after two seasons in League One and Evatt believes taking on the Latics will be a good indication of where his side currently stands as they aim to follow in their neighbours’ footsteps, especially since the transformation of the squad in the January transfer window.
Evatt said: “Take away the rivalry and the local derby. It is a benchmark for us at the moment because they are in the automatic promotion positions and that is where we want to get to.
“It is a good marker of how far we have come since January, a great test and no excuses this time. We have got a fully fit squad more or less, lots of good players and we will be ready.
“We have worked really well this week. We have tweaked one or two things, looking at ways we can hurt them, and we will see come Saturday.”
The 4-0 loss at the hands of the Latics has been one of the lows in Evatt’s time at Wanderers and the Bolton boss believes their poor form in November and December may well be what has cost them promotion this season.
But the Bolton boss feels that a platform has been built at the University of Bolton Stadium for future success and believes promotion last season and a top 10 finish upon their return to League One would be something to build upon as he believes his side are a different proposition compared to when they last met in October.
He said: “It’s never plain sailing, especially here. We’ve been through the mill together in two years and you guys have been through the mill over a longer period than that.
“But what we have done is fundamentally built the club back into a really good place. Our brand and identity is there for all to see, we are getting lots of plaudits. People are taking notice of our club again, which is what we want .
“A promotion and then potentially a top 10 finish in the first season in League One is something to be proud of and something to build from.
“But with every positive there are always negatives and there are loads of things that we can work on and improve on. November and December have probably cost us promotion, that’s how I see it.
“But it means that we are not far away and this is a great benchmark on Saturday, a team that is riding for automatic (promotion), to see where we are at right now and what we need to do to get to that level.
“We are a different team to them, they are a lot more effective and direct than we are but there are different ways to win football matches.
“They are effective at what they do and we want to be equally effective with what we do. That involves us being brave and showing real courage on the ball there on Saturday.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.