IAN Evatt insists Antoni Sarcevic remains an integral part of his Bolton Wanderers first team.

Captain Sarcevic has come in for criticism from a section of supporters who have questioned his contribution to the team and have called for him to be removed from the starting XI.

But Evatt has emphasised the role the midfielder has played this season and said he has no intention of being swayed by public opinion when it comes to team selection.

“Antoni Sarcevic scored and played very well on Saturday, especially in the second half," said the Wanderers boss.

"He played very well against Cheltenham. His fitness levels are exceptional, he’s the captain of this football club.

"He’s an emotional guy, he wants to win and people show that in different ways but he has my full respect and full backing.

"He’s the captain of this club, and I will not play or drop players just because certain people suggest it.

"The decisions are made by me and I will make what I feel is the best decision for this football club and this football team and at the moment, Antoni Sarcevic is definitely a huge part of our plans.”

The summer signing helped to fire Plymouth Argyle to promotion to League One with 10 league goals and it was hoped he would have a similar impact at the University of Bolton Stadium after scoring on his debut, albeit in the Carabao Cup defeat to Bradford City.

But after riding high with the Pilgrims last season Sarcevic finds himself in the bottom half of the table, with Bolton struggling with the expectation of bouncing straight back to League One.

The former Fleetwood favourite took his tally for the season to five, including four in the league, when he scored in the 2-1 defeat at Tranmere Rovers on Saturday, where Wanderers ended the game with 10 men.

It was the 28-year-old's first goal since November, ending a run of 13 games, across all competitions, without a goal.

In giving Sarcevic the captain's armband on the eve of the season, Evatt said: "He's a leader and he's a big character in the changing room.

"He's a local boy and he's ever so proud to play for Bolton Wanderers, it means the world to him.

"He's worked his whole life to play for a club like this so he deserves to carry that armband and carry this team forward, it's as simple as that."