WANDERERS will go into tomorrow’s League Two curtain raiser against Forest Green with a clear defensive directive from Ian Evatt.

For while the head coach is keen for his squad to embrace an attack-minded brand of football this season, he does not want the basics ignored.

With two error-strewn cup defeats fresh in the memory, Evatt brought his squad together again at Lostock yesterday to speak his mind.

Alex Baptiste and Ricardo Santos could come back into the equation on Saturday as Wanderers look to chalk up three points at the first time of asking.

“Defenders need to take pride from defending, keeping the ball out of the back of the net,” Evatt said. “That has to be where it starts. A clean sheet mentality.

“We all strive for perfection. I don’t believe you can every achieve it but you have to keep wanting to get there.

“We can get better all over the pitch but just at this moment I look at us defensively and that is where I really want to see an improvement.”

Wanderers have played catch-up in both their competitive outings so far this season – but Evatt is not placing too much importance on getting ahead early.

“We all want to start fast and score the first goal really quickly but sometimes it’s a case of moving the ball around and tiring an opponent out so you can get ahead,” he said.

“You have to play what the game gives you, and if it’s tight then you might have to be a little more patient and wait for the opportunities.

“If Tuesday night’s game had been 0-0 at half time and we’d gone on to score two or three, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. It’s frustrating because we are putting pressure on ourselves with the sloppy goals we have conceded that we’re having to react.

“When you have control of the ball you can tire an opponent out and take advantage.”

The town of Bolton has suffered a tough week after being placed back in lockdown, leaving hopes of an early return to the UniBol looking unlikely in the extreme.

Evatt believes his side has been affected by playing in an empty stadium as the home team but accepts there is a bigger picture at play.

“We know the fans are there, we know they are supporting us,” he said. “It is not easy, and especially at home.

“Without the crowd there to back us I find we can lose momentum quite easily and it makes it easier for the opposition.

“Of course, it is easier for away teams to go to a ground when you haven’t got 12,000 people screaming down your neck. They can play with a bit more freedom and haven’t got the same pressure.

“And when we haven’t got our fans sucking the ball into the goal it can have an adverse effect, no doubt. But it’s the same for everyone at the moment.

“I want our fans back more than anything because I know how important they will be to this team. But, for now, the most important thing is that Bolton gets itself out of lockdown and people stay safe, healthy, obey the rules and get out of the situation really quickly.”