ONE of the few positives to come out of Wanderers’ Papa John’s Trophy campaign to date was a sparkling cameo of Regan Riley at Shrewsbury.

The young midfielder produced a performance beyond his years after replacing the injured Tom White and was rewarded with a place on the bench in Bolton’s next league game.

But Ian Evatt believes the complex competition rules which dictate that four ‘qualifying players’ must ne named in the starting line-up for tonight’s dead rubber against Newcastle United’s Under-21s mean Riley may have to settle for a sub’s spot once again.

Clubs can be fined up to £5,000 for playing 'under-strength' sides and must include at least four players who played in their previous league fixture, play in their next league fixture, has played more than 40 EFL games, or are on loan from a category one academy.

Bolton have more first team players fit and available than they did at the start of last month when a 2-1 defeat against the Shrews spelled the end of their hopes of progressing from the group stages.

But while Newcastle United have the luxury of testing their youngsters in a competition of their very own, the same luxury is not afforded to clubs in the EFL.

“In many ways, that’s what might stop me giving players like Regan Riley a start tomorrow, along with Markus Arnasson and others, because we have to play the first team players under the rules of the competition,” Evatt explained. “The last thing we want are financial penalties.

“They do have to look at it, in my opinion, if they are going down the route of category one 23s playing in this competition, then why can’t we have the same for EFL clubs?

“Most EFL clubs can only carry players they deem fit enough to play in the first team, so it’s a perfect opportunity to give some of the younger players minutes. We can’t to extent we would like because of the rules.”

Evatt has ruled out any player who started against Salford on Friday being involved against Newcastle – but the likes of Tom White, Lloyd Isgrove, Shaun Miller, Ronan Darcy, Jak Hickman, Liam Gordon, Brandon Comley, Arthur Gnahoua and Billy Crellin will be in the squad.

“Some of the players who have been out of the team have got things to prove to me and show they are ready to be called upon again,” the Bolton boss said.

“We have got a lot to choose from against Newcastle. The ones who started on Friday will not be involved because there are so many games coming up and we need to rest their legs.

“The likes of Gethin Jones, Andy Tutte, Eoin Doyle, who haven’t played too often recently, we have to give them time to recover.

“The rest – Ricardo Santos, Ryan Delaney, Antoni Sarcevic – they are quickly becoming big players for us and we have to look after them.

“We’re sad that we can’t progress in this competition because I think the two games we’ve had have been close. I think we played well at Shrewsbury and deserved something and then against Crewe we’d got ahead, then level, and then just gave the result away.

“It is unfortunate but every cloud has a silver lining and I’d like to give some of the younger ones some minutes to help their progression.”