WANDERERS manager Ian Evatt’s recruitment shake-up involves assessing a player’s character as much as their quality.

Since his role changed from head coach to manager following the departure of head of football operations Tobias Phoenix in December, Evatt has spent recent weeks personally speaking to targets before securing their signature, so that he is assured he is getting a player who can contribute just as much off the pitch as he can on it.

Evatt admits the process is not without its difficulties in a pandemic, having to ‘meet’ players online. But as he aims to solidify the foundations of his rebuild, he insists it is an improvement on a process that – in his experience – had not done enough due diligence previously.

“I’m now personally interviewing everybody that we’re trying to sign,” Evatt said. “I’m getting many, many character references but also getting a feel for them myself.

“They have to be the right fit for Bolton Wanderers and coming here for the right reasons and hungry and wanting to earn the right to play for this magnificent football club and in that shirt.

“There’s many parts to due diligence. There’s the data aspect but that should only back up what your eye tells you, it shouldn’t be a reason to sign players.

“It all has to come together to make the right informed decision, so that’s your eye, your knowledge, your references, your character interview and your data, and once that all marries up you’re taking away and limiting the risk of making mistakes with recruitment. We haven’t done that in the past.”

Kieran Lee spent time training with the squad before he completed his move from Sheffield Wednesday. But generally, without being able to meet individuals face to face due to the restrictions of the latest lockdown, Evatt explained: “We’ll have a coffee over Zoom. That’s it.

“I like them to look me in the eye when I’m talking to them and that’s difficult on Zoom.

“It is challenging of course. You’re just wanting to hear the right things and hear the enthusiasm in their voice and understand what their requirements are and what they want to do with their careers moving forwards and if that’s in line with Bolton Wanderers. And if it is, alongside every other part of recruitment they’re hopefully the right ones for us moving forwards.”

Evatt is also mindful of the financial implications for the club.

“Obviously we want these players, but we’re not going to be held to ransom, number one; and number two, we have to make sure that the deals are right for the football club, within our means and within the salary cap.

“As I’ve said many times, there’s still plenty of room in that salary cap and it’s not down to the board and their investment. It’s purely down to me and my decision making choices that I just don’t want to get it wrong and I feel like we’ve rushed recruitment in the past.

“Due diligence is very important and vital for this football club moving forwards so that’s what’s happening, that’s what’s taking place.

“We’ve identified a couple and hopefully we can do it. I feel confident that we can but if we don’t then it is what it is and we’ll have to adapt and overcome.”