WANDERERS started the summer with a new manager, a new data-driven recruitment philosophy and a blank canvass on which to paint.

Nineteen new players have come through the door in one of the busiest transfer windows the club has ever seen – but with just 48 hours to go before deadline, there is still a general feeling that Ian Evatt’s squad requires something extra.

During the summer much was made of the fact each new arrival had been cherry picked for a specific position within the squad by the new head coach and head of football operations, Tobias Phoenix.

The exact depth of Bolton’s budget remains under wraps but the arrival of pedigree names likes Eoin Doyle, Antoni Sarcevic and Nathan Delfouneso certainly underlined the club’s promotion mantra, which was pushed from every corner of the University of Bolton Stadium.

Billed as favourites for the title before a ball was kicked, it is fair to say the Whites have not yet come close to substantiating the pre-season confidence of an immediate return to League One. And with four points from their first five games, they currently sit closer to the relegation places than the play-offs.

Evatt is trying hard to bed down a new style of play with his squad of loans and free transfers, his task made more difficult by the fact they arrived in differing conditions following a disjointed 2020 in lockdown. Injuries – a seemingly ubiquitous issue for Bolton managers – have also played their part.

Wanderers have put their feelers out for loans in the last couple of weeks among Championship and Premier League clubs and Evatt claimed earlier this week he was hoping to add “one or two” more players to his ranks.

But salary cap measures voted in over the summer add an extra layer of complexity to recruitment this season, and Wanderers not only need to stay within the £1.5million limit but must also submit a list of up to 22 registered players by the weekend, which does not include those under 21.

Those who have yet to feature – such as injured pair Muhammadu Faal or Liam Edwards – currently do not count towards the total but would have to be registered if they were to feature.

All loan deals with Premier League or EFL sides must be completed by 5pm but the league regulations state that free agents can still be added to the list, provided there is space to do so, in “truly exceptional circumstances”. This would also apply if Wanderers were to add a previously unregistered player to the 22.

So, where will Evatt look to strengthen? We examine the various departments in the Wanderers squad and assess his current options.

GOALKEEPER: Fleetwood loanee Billy Crellin has started the season as first choice and has made a save every 40.9 minutes in League Two thus far.

The youngster is relatively unchallenged in the number one spot, with Evatt refraining from naming a replacement on the bench in the last two games.

Matt Alexander was confirmed as the back-up keeper but is now taking a watching brief, likewise goalkeeper coach Matt Gilks – who was also registered as a player in the summer.

It seems unlikely that Wanderers will reach for a keeper, given the options they are already overlooking.

WING-BACKS: Gethin Jones’ injury means youngster Jak Hickman remains the only right-sided wing-back on the books, although Evatt did push Harry Brockbank into the role last weekend with limited success.

On the opposite flank, Liam Gordon struggled for consistency at the very start of the season and lost his place to Jamie Mascoll. But he too laboured against Grimsby last time out.

Neither of the left-sided options look like orthodox full-backs, which makes any potential switch to a back four all the more problematic.

With Jones still six weeks away, strengthening the right side looks to be the main priority in the short term for Wanderers but none of the options mentioned have yet done enough to consider themselves first choice.

CENTRE-BACKS: If anywhere in the Wanderers squad is well-stocked, it is the centre-back department.

When fit, Evatt has George Taft, Ricardo Santos, Ryan Delaney, Reiss Greenidge, Harry Brockbank, Alex Baptiste, Adam Senior and Liam Edwards to call on, so to add another at this stage of the game would really raise eyebrows.

CENTRE-MIDS: Wanderers’ 3-4-3 or 3-4-1-2 formation means there are two distinct types of central midfielder needed, and a case can be made for Evatt pursuing both in the remaining days of the window.

Brandon Comley lost his place in the league starting line-up after the 2-0 home defeat to Newport County and the man who started alongside him on the opening day of the season – Blackburn Rovers loanee Tom White – is out for six weeks through injury.

Andy Tutte has been pushed into a starting spot despite still feeling his way to full fitness and skipper Antoni Sarcevic has dropped deeper since returning from his own lay-off.

Further forward, Ali Crawford has been heavily leaned upon to provide the creative spark from the number 10 position, while Ronan Darcy has watched on from the bench.

Regan Riley has forced his way on to the fringes of the first team after a fine display against Shrewsbury in the EFL Trophy and Sonny Graham is another player ear-marked for a loan move.

It is fair to say central midfield has been a problematic area thus far for Wanderers, who have struggled to break through the opposition lines on a few occasions, most recently in the second half against Grimsby.

And so it would be no surprise to see Evatt try and bolster this area of his squad with a youthful loan signing.

WINGERS: Evatt’s preferred system has wing-backs rather than traditional wingers but he has also tweaked the formation to more of a 3-4-3, which gives rise for wider attacking players like Lloyd Isgrove.

The former Southampton man has only made one brief appearance thus far and, alongside Shaun Miller, is likely to be put through a mini pre-season before he is placed back into the first team.

In the last few weeks, Nathan Delfouneso has been pushed on to the left side when Wanderers play a front three – and so that may be where Evatt looks to strengthen, knowing he can eventually balance out his attack with a fully-fit Isgrove.

STRIKERS: Eoin Doyle and Delfouneso remain a strong front two – but with Miller still searching for fitness and Muhammadu Faal still nursing a fractured foot, Wanderers have only Arthur Gnahoua and the youthful Finlay Lockett or Bright Amoateng as back-up.

Both Doyle and Delfouneso got off the mark in the recent victory at Harrogate but the supply line was limited last weekend and they ended up dropping too deep to get into the game.

Evatt tried to bring in ex-Fleetwood and Rotherham front man David Ball earlier this month, who can play either as a central striker, a number 10 or off either flank. Something similar would probably be ideal.