ANTONI Sarcevic believes having the squad’s character called into question by head coach Ian Evatt this week may have been something the players needed to hear.

The skipper makes no bones about the fact Bolton’s performances in their first seven games of the season have not been of sufficient standard.

And even after grabbing a late equaliser in a 3-3 draw at Barrow on Tuesday night, he admitted the night was “bittersweet” as two points more had slipped through the net.

Evatt had strongly condemned the display against Oldham a few days earlier – branding it “gutless” and “disgusting” – and though he later qualified his view, Sarcevic felt the tough love might just have made the message sink in with the squad that big improvements are necessary.

“It’s true isn’t it?” reflected the midfielder. “We hadn’t shown the character of a team that should be pushing high up in the league. We need to take what he said, bounce back, and show him we are the right set of players.

“In-house we all know. We’re professional footballers and we know it isn’t acceptable.

“I’ve been out here talking two or three times, same as Doyler (Eoin Doyle), and we’ve tried to pass that on to the lads who have come from below this league, or from teams around it.

“We can only say certain things and I just hope what we are saying is going into the lads.

“We need to get this club promoted, no doubt about it, and we need to start doing it soon as possible.”

Sarcevic won promotion with Plymouth Argyle last season and was voted into the PFA League Two team of the year. But the Mancunian has not found the going easy since making a summer switch from Home Park.

Wanderers’ much-changed squad has not adapted as quickly as expected, heaping pressure on new boss Evatt.

But it is hoped within the dressing room that a point at Barrow, secured in dramatic circumstances, could well be the catalyst for improvement.

“It has been a frustrating season. I’ve said it several times to the lads and the gaffer, we’re the scalp in this league, everyone is looking for our fixtures. And we haven’t rose to that challenge yet. We haven’t shown that we are that top team and we have to start doing it,” Sarcevic said.

“You take positive things from that game. There was character from the lads and 2-0 down after five minutes we could have just gone into our shells.

“It’s bittersweet. Of course it’s nice to get a goal but it’s frustrating because we should also have taken three points. No disrespect to Barrow, we should be winning these games.”

Cambridge are next up, and Mark Bonner's side have taken 16 points from a possible 21 since the start of the season to lead the early running.

Sarcevic says a positive result at the Abbey Stadium would be a big boost for confidence.

“We need to step it up massively because they are the team that’s flying high at the minute,” he said.

“We have gone from playing two teams down there with us to top of the league, so we need to make sure we’re at it.

“It’s only early but they are the team to beat at the moment. Win and it could be a springboard for our season.”

Meanwhile, Bolton Wanderers’ League Two game against Scunthorpe United on Tuesday, November 24 at Glanford Park will now kick off at 7pm.