IAN Evatt believes football’s heightening dementia issue is a difficult one for the game to balance.

Calls are growing for heading to restricted in training at all levels, from youth football right through to the professional game, with Nobby Stiles the latest high-profile former player to die having battled the disease in later life.

The death of the 1996 World Cup winner at the age of 78 and news team-mate Sir Bobby Charlton had been diagnosed with dementia have brought the issue back to the top of the agenda.

A study last year found footballers were three-and-a-half times more likely to die of a neurodegenerative disease than those of the same age from the general population.

Bolton legend Nat Lofthouse, famously noted for his heading ability, died in 2011 aged 85 after suffering from dementia.

As a central defender for Blackpool, Chesterfield, Derby and others, Wanderers boss Evatt did more than his fair share of his heading during his playing days.

Now as a manager responsible for the structure of training sessions, the Whites head coach is looking at things from a different perspective.

The 38-year-old believes things have improved for the modern-day player and wants to see plenty of work done before decisions are made on how much heading is deemed acceptable for players of all ages. And Evatt believes if there is change in football, then other sports will also come under the microscope.

“This is a really good debate and it’s genuinely hard to come out on either side of it,” Evatt said.

“What I’ll understand is the game has changed. When older players were playing as younger men, the footballs were completely different to what they are now and as technology has evolved, the football’s have evolved.

“We don’t know either way right now if the footballs that we play with and how light they are nowadays cause some damage to the brain.

“However, we know for a fact that in the 80s, 70s, 60s, when the footballs were a lot firmer, leather footballs that were wet and really heavy would have caused some serious damage.

“What I will say is you’ve always got an option, haven’t you, and it’s your choice whether you head the ball or not.

“It’s your choice whether you join in any sport or activity. If we start saying you cannot head the ball in football, then where do we end with it?

“Do we ban boxing completely? Do we ban other sports - NFL, rugby? They’ve all got physical impact issues that can cause damage to the human body so we have to manage it correctly and we have to take our time and make sure we get the decision, whatever it is, correct.

“I don’t know what the answer is but what I’m saying is we have to make sure we get it right for everyone for the good of the sport but also for the health of human beings.”