IAN Evatt does not expect Wanderers to hit top speed just yet – but promised fans the journey will be well worth it in the end.

Ten weeks since taking on the reins, the Bolton head coach is preparing for his first league game in charge of a club now unrecognisable from the one relegated last season.

A massive squad overhaul and the promise of a progressive style of play similar to the one he orchestrated at Barrow last term has convinced more than 8,000 supporters to part with their cash in the middle of a pandemic to buy season tickets – despite having no firm guarantee on when they will be able to watch their team in the flesh.

The optimism which has swept around the football club is in stark contrast to the hardship now being felt around a town gripped in lockdown and facing significant economic challenges.

But Evatt is convinced that despite suffering a couple of pride-denting defeats in the cup competitions in his first outings in the dugouts, that his side is now ready to bring some overdue smiles to faces in Bolton.

“We all know it’s a big campaign for us, we’re under no illusion that we’ve got to make sure we’re at the top end of this division,” he said. “And I expect us to be.

“I don’t feel there’s weight on my shoulders, none at all. I am more than confident we’ll get results.”

Evatt has had to build a squad virtually from scratch with the transfer market in a state of mid-pandemic flux. As a result, he freely admits that his side are not as physically or tactically prepared as he would wish in a normal situation.

But the Bolton boss trusts in his recruitment methods and the work he and assistant Peter Atherton have been doing on the training ground since the start of July, feeling his players will get stronger the longer the season continues.

“I think we have more gears to come,” he said. “At the moment, we’re playing in second gear.

“That doesn’t mean to say we can’t get a result on Saturday against Forest Green but there will be plenty more improvement.

“With 17 new players the detail we have had to go into in every area of the pitch has had to be prioritised. There is loads more to come and they have already taken loads on board.

“The more I hammer home those non-negotiables, the values we’re trying to play with, the more they will improve. They are getting there but, at the moment, we’re not where we want to be, no doubt about it.”

Some of the teething troubles have been evident against Bradford and Crewe in the cup competitions, two defeats which scuffed the sheen of invincibility which had been built-up in the summer months.

Evatt has been frustrated by some of the defensive lapses, and told his players so when they reported to Lostock on Thursday.

“Their ears will be ringing this morning,” he said. “We cannot keep shooting ourselves in the foot by a lack of concentration.

“I wouldn’t mind if Crewe had played through us because they are a fantastic football team who have some good young players who will end up playing a lot higher.

“But we’re conceding set pieces, dead ball situations, goal kicks, and from switching off defensively. Long balls are getting in behind us, which they shouldn’t be with the pace and power we have got back there.

“It is reminding defenders that they are there to defend. Yes, we’re asking them to play out and build attacks but that is an added extra to the basics – and they are to head the ball, win tackles and defend properly. If we do that, we’ll win games consistently.”