Wing-backs could hold the key to Wanderers’ success in League One this season.
Ian Evatt believes the consistency shown by Randell Williams and Josh Dacres-Cogley has been one of the main ingredients in a seven-game winning run which has put the Whites on to the shoulder of the automatic promotion spots.
Williams tops the league for key passes – i.e. chances created – alongside Derby County’s Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, with Dacres-Cogley also fifth on the list.
And Evatt has seen tangible evidence that the former Hull City man’s fitness has helped him cope better with a demanding role on the pitch.
“I spoke to him at the start of the week to say how pleased I had been with the way he was playing,” he told The Bolton News.
“The last few weeks I have been delighted with what he has done, in particular his physical data, which has been excellent.
“That position is really challenging, for me, you have got a lot of high-speed running in attack, in defence, in transition, it is physically tough. And in the last few weeks that side of his game has been outstanding and people might not have noticed it, but that has coincided with good performances from the team as well.
“There is clearly a correlation between how our wing-backs are doing and how the team performs overall.”
Williams was substituted in error during the 2-0 win at Stockport County in the Bristol Street Motors Trophy on Tuesday night, after what was deemed “miscommunication” with the touchline staff.
He had been carrying a minor knock after the weekend’s win against Blackpool but there are no concerns that he will be unavailable when Bolton return to the training ground on Monday morning.
The 26-year-old played catch-up after signing from Hull in January, having spent much of his time on Humberside in the Championship recovering from injury. But he has looked a different prospect since returning for Wanderers in the summer and has now contributed 32 ‘key passes’ and two goals from the left flank this term.
“His understanding of the position and what is expected has really come on,” Evatt said.
“We knew last season where he had come from, he hadn’t played a lot of football at his previous club and that it might take some time to make him more robust but I think he is there now and we are reaping the rewards from it.
“Both him and Josh, when you look at those numbers, are doing a very good job. But we have some good options there – Jack Iredale can play there, Zac Ashworth is coming back, Geth Jones has played there and young Luke Matheson looks a really good prospect.
“There are opportunities and challenges for all the wing-backs but I have been delighted by their consistency so far.”
Ashworth was not involved in Wales Under-21s’ 1-0 win against Iceland in Newport on Thursday night but is part of Matty Jones’s squad and could feature in Monday’s game against Denmark at the same venue.
Wanderers hope to have him available for their next league game against Exeter City after he made a full recovery from a calf injury.