THERE can be no room for sentiment as Ian Evatt presses on with the biggest week of his managerial reign at Wanderers.

Faced with a rapid makeover in a 10-day break between league fixtures, the Bolton boss must make some tough decisions on fringe players who have failed to nail down a regular first team spot if he is to bring in much-needed new recruits.

Last summer’s recruitment was done in double-quick time in conjunction with former head of football operations, Tobias Phoenix, with more than 20 players added to the squad in preparation for the League Two season ahead.

The results, alas, have proved patchy. Although recruited to be “position-specific” some of the new arrivals fell short of the expected demands, leaving Evatt clutching square pegs with only round holes in view for the last couple of months.

New rules voted in the by EFL clubs last summer restrict clubs to 22 registered players.

There are a few exceptions to the rule, including those Under-21 or who are on loan from category one academies – but the recent delay in concluding the permanent signing of Kieran Lee has been in part about Wanderers trying to manufacture space in their quota to enable the transfer to go ahead.

Evatt maintains he has space in the £1.5million-per-year salary cap which was also voted in over the summer but wiggle room in the quota could be a different matter altogether, which puts some of his fringe players at greater risk of being moved on than they would ordinarily be.

That means just four months on from the opening Carabao Cup game against Bradford City, several members of Evatt’s first line-up that day now look under threat.

Goalkeeper Billy Crellin started as first choice but was axed in November after a prolonged spell of erratic form. His parent club, Fleetwood, are now managerless after the sacking of Joey Barton, which may complicate any plans Evatt has to cut short his loan.

It remains to be seen whether the 20-year-old will continue at Bolton as back-up to player-coach, Matt Gilks, who was ironically the man whose recommendation first brought him to the club.

Liam Gordon started on the opening day as left wing-back following a fine pre-season in which his energy and explosive pace looked to be a real asset.

Unfortunately, it was Gordon’s lack of league experience which shone above all else and after being named in Evatt’s line-up for seven of the first nine competitive fixtures, he has since played from the start in just two cup matches.

He was recently loaned back to his former club, Dagenham and Redbridge, but played just once so far – on Boxing Day at Dover Athletic.

It seems unlikely that Gordon will return to Bolton and challenge for a spot this season, especially with the impending addition of Declan John from Swansea. But the defender does have another year on his contract, which rules nothing out in the future.

George Taft’s fast fall from grace since the start of the campaign has raised eyebrows around the Wanderers fanbase.

The big defender was signed on a free transfer after leaving Cambridge United and had the pedigree to suggest he was going to be an important cog in the Bolton machine.

Instead, he found opportunities in League Two surprisingly limited, starting just once – in defeat at home to Newport – and a handful of cup games.

Ryan Delaney’s comparatively consistent form through much of the season kept Taft out of view, and more recently Evatt’s willingness to push Reiss Greenidge forward as a left-sided option in his back three make the former England youth international’s chances look decidedly slim.

Like Taft, Brandon Comley seemed somewhat of a specialist recruit in a holding midfield role.

Passing statistics at his former club Colchester United were impressive and a good fit for the brand of football Evatt had billed.

Unfortunately for Comley, the reality proved quite different. And though his possession stats remain economical, his defensive struggles at the start of the season saw him slip quickly behind Andy Tutte as the main midfield enforcer.

Another member of the engine room against Bradford was Blackburn Rovers loanee, Tom White. While his status currently remains as bleak as Comley he can at least point to some reasonable early-season performances in his time at Bolton thus far.

The 23-year-old looked technically adept as he started six of the first seven games in league and cup but in a similar vein to wing-back, Gordon, his lack of physicality was found out against certain opponents.

White played against Newcastle United’s Under-23s in the Papa John’s Trophy but has since made fleeting appearances from the subs’ bench. Depressingly, his record as a starter at Bolton stands: Played nine, won one, drawn one and lost seven.

Jak Hickman was named on the bench on the opening day – and while he has managed to accentuate his reputation over the first half of the campaign, his lack of recent game time makes him a prime candidate for a loan move elsewhere.

With Wanderers close to landing another left-sided player in Declan John, both Gethin Jones and Harry Brockbank will presumably be free to challenge for their more natural right-sided roles, leaving Hickman – his contract up this summer - in a difficult position.

The youngster built up some goodwill among the Bolton supporters in his early-season outings but with space in the squad quota at a premium, Evatt may be forced to make cuts where he would not normally do so.

Another player who has effectively been out of sight and out of mind is striker Muhammadu Faal.

The 23-year-old was signed last year in the hope he could replicate his goalscoring form at Enfield in the professional leagues but his lack of opportunities under either Keith Hill or Evatt suggest the jump was too much at this stage of his career.

Faal fractured his foot in the summer, which pushed him even further down the pecking order at Bolton and was eventually loaned out to Barnet. Since November he has played nine times for the Bees, his only goal eventually given to someone else after a review.

The deal runs until the end of the season but Barnet have an option to make it permanent this month.

Speaking to the club’s website late last year, Faal – also a free agent in June – was not looking back in anger at his time at Bolton.

“I’ve learned a lot, to be honest,” he said. “Bolton is a big club and you don’t see how big it is until you get there.

“It was an experience I was thankful for, that I had to go through, but now I am just focussed on playing games and scoring as many goals as I can for Barnet.”