WANDERERS hope to find a way of getting their fringe players regular football by the New Year.

In the absence of an Under-23s side this season, the Whites know they could struggle to keep some members of the squad fully fit while they are not in Ian Evatt’s regular line-up.

Plans to loan out some of the younger players have been hit hard by the lockdown of non-league football. And restrictions during the pandemic have also affected plans to establish a regular ‘B Team’ which plays friendlies against other category three academy clubs.

But it is hoped that if the national situation improves over the coming months that Wanderers can keep some of their peripheral stars sharp by scheduling semi-regular games at the training ground.

Persistent injuries across the squad mean Evatt has been unable to establish the level of competition for places he would like – but with the treatment room now beginning to clear and EFL clubs voting in a rule change that will allow him to use five substitutes each matchday, the Bolton boss feels for the first time that he is able to start planning ahead.

“I don’t want to tempt fate at the moment because it’s the first time we’ve had the majority in one piece,” he said.

“We know that can change pretty quickly and we’ve seen earlier on this season that we didn’t have those options.

“If you look at the game at Shrewsbury, for example, we had to play a few younger ones.

“But right now, we’re fortunate that we’ve got more or less a fully fit squad and it’s competitive so if that continues for any length of time then definitely they’ll need games and we’ll need to organise something.”

Evatt was pleased with some elements of the performance against Newcastle’s Under-21s as the Whites bowed out of the Papa John’s Trophy group stages with a 3-2 win. But after making 11 changes to his line-up on the night he conceded it was never going to be perfect.

“It’s not easy for that team because Newcastle, they’re obviously used to playing with each other week in, week out, so they build relationships,” he said.

“This team has never played before, so it’s hard for them to be thrown together and just say get on with it.

“If you’re adding one or two to a consistent 11, then it’s different to adding the whole 11, so that was pleasing.”

Evatt picked out a few individuals who impressed on the night.

“There were some positive performances,” he said. “I think Reiss Greenidge was very good, Ronan Darcy came into it later on, George Thomason who I’ve loved from minute one who’s been out on loan and we’ve recalled him, he’s a fantastic footballer and he showed what he could do when he came on.

“Mitch Henry has had his debut and he’s enjoyed himself so there are lots of positives.

“Scoring three goals again at home is great and the win, first and foremost. But there’s lots to work on and lots to build on and we’re not getting carried away.

“That’s two wins on the trot, let’s try and get three points on Saturday.”

With all 11 players who were involved against Salford excluded from the cup side, all signs point to the same team being restored when Bolton travel to Stevenage on Saturday.

But some of the positive elements on show at the UniBol in midweek may well alter his plans for the bench – which with new regulations allowing him more flexibility with substitutions may mean a few unexpected appearances.

“There’s always things to think about,” he said. “Every game in this league throws something different at you.

"But their attitude and application was first class so that’s the most important thing to me.

“Everything else we can work on and develop, technique, positions, quality but you have to have heart and desire and they showed me they’ve got that.”