IAN Evatt wants Wanderers to save their festive celebrations until May.

Plenty of people will be taking advantage of a brief relaxation in lockdown rules over Christmas to spend time with their families and indulge in the time-honoured tradition.

Footballers seldom get the same chance – although the temptation this year to eat, drink and be merry may be greater than ever after a year spent under the grip of a global pandemic.

Evatt hopes his players will be able to enjoy themselves at the end of the season having achieved what they set out to do – gain promotion back to League One.

“It’s important at this time of year that the players make sacrifices,” the Bolton boss explained.

“It’s Christmas, everyone wants to enjoy it and celebrate but it’s going to be different this year because of the pandemic.

“There are not many Christmases where I have done what I want, had what I wanted. It’s what you want for yourself and the team and if you can make those sacrifices, make sure you are fuelling your body in the right way and getting enough sleep, you give yourself and the rest of us the best opportunity to get results on a Saturday, that’s what is important.”

The Christmas holiday is still a few weeks away but Evatt and the squad have already made plans to train on December 25 and keep the squad together for their game the following day.

“Moving ahead and looking ahead we’re blessed with good facilities,” Evatt said.

“We have already made plans and the players will be spending Christmas night in the hotel here with me because we want to make sure they get a good night and then go and win the game at Carlisle on Boxing Day.

“We have got the training schedule set out and they know it’s a time for sacrifices.

“Hopefully our time to enjoy ourselves will be in May and June. But we have a long way to go before then and a lot of points to be played for and work to be done.”

Football took a big step back towards a return to normality this week with limited number of supporters allowed access to stadia in midweek in areas deemed tier one and two by the government, according to coronavirus risk.

Bolton is currently in tier three and unable to welcome any fans for the time being, but the club has laid out plans for how they intend to bring people back into the University of Bolton Stadium and will be ready to do so at short notice.

Evatt admits his players have now acclimatised to life behind closed doors.

“I had a conversation last night at my son’s football training – it’s almost strange seeing supporters back in stadiums again,” he said. “We saw them on Wednesday night at some games in our division.

“And in a weird kind of way it will be strange for us when fans return.

“But I am hoping at the stage we get our fans back – and we desperately do want them back – that the team is functioning, performing well, and we’re where we need to be in this division.

“Then they can be the difference for us. That’s what we are looking forward to in the end.”

Playing without supporters has been a problem for every side in the land for the last nine months – and Bolton have not been able to welcome people to the UniBol since February.

Evatt maintains that his side will have a real edge once folk are allowed back through the turnstiles.

“I have said it all season that this stadium is actually a disadvantage to us,” he said.

“Everyone loves coming here, it’s an FA Cup final for them because of the name.

“But you put 12,000 fans who are kicking, screaming and willing us to win, then it all of a sudden makes it a horrible place for the opposition to come and play.

“We have a job to do in the meantime to make sure we are in the right position when they do come back.”