AN orderly queue is forming in Wanderers’ defensive ranks as Will Aimson added his claim to a place in Ian Evatt’s starting line-up on Tuesday night. 

The 27-year-old summer signing impressed as the Whites ran out 4-1 winners against Liverpool Under-21s in the Papa John’s Trophy on Tuesday night, in what was his first start for the club. 

Aimson signed a two-year deal at the UniBol after leaving Plymouth over the summer, but his start to life in the North West has been impacted by a groin problem. 

Ricardo Santos and George Johnston have been the mainstays at the back for Evatt so far this season but the ever-reliable Alex Baptiste and Aimson now provide a depth of cover that Wanderers have not had in some time. 

Speaking after the Liverpool game, Evatt said: “We’ve got four very good ones. We’re very fortunate. I think recruitment-wise we’re happy with where we’re at, providing we keep them all in one piece.”  

The Whites’ strength in defence is an example of how far the club has come over the last couple of years, but who will get the nod at Hillsborough and beyond? 

Ricardo Santos 

Santos played a key role last season as Evatt’s men won promotion from League Two and has maintained his high standards this term. 

The defender is leading the way for tackles per game (1.5) and total interceptions (seven) compared to his defensive partners. 

Santos is unquestionably a dominating presence but Evatt is looking to make him a more vocal leader on the pitch. 

George Johnston 

Johnston has made an immediate impact following his move from Feyenoord over the summer, becoming a regular starter. 

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The former Liverpool youngster is leading the way for blocks per game (1.4) and has a knack for popping up with goals, as he did in the 5-2 win at Ipswich. 

He has made more defensive blocks (12) than any other player in League One this season and his tenacity has quickly made him a popular figure on the terraces. 

Alex Baptiste 

Baptiste was an integral part of the promotion-winning side last season and is someone Evatt knows he can rely on from their time together at Blackpool. 

Moreover, the defender’s experience and communication skills have a big impact on those around him, with Santos in particular crediting him as a positive influence. 

Baptiste is averaging six clearances per game so far this term, which is higher than his defensive partners, and also has a higher percentage of aerial duels won (5.4 per game) than any of the quartet. 

The Bolton News:

Will Aimson

Aimson made a strong impression against the Young Reds on Tuesday night, making four interceptions as the Whites booked their place in the knockout rounds.

The defender also made an encouraging start in the ball, with just over 90 per cent of his 82 passes against Liverpool finding a Bolton shirt. Although it is a much smaller sample, his stats for possession lost also compare favourably with the other three.

Being able to play out from the back is a handy skillset in Wanderers’ possession-based approach.