RICARDO Santos can be the leader of the pack at Wanderers, says Ian Evatt.

The in-form defender has been one of the stand-out performers at the UniBol this season and has started to attract admiring glances from higher up the Football League.

The attention comes as no surprise to Evatt, whose side host Scunthorpe United this evening. But the Bolton boss believes Santos can add more to his game and grow with the club in the coming years.

“The sky is the limit for Rico,” he told The Bolton News. “He’s 25 years old, he’s 6ft 4ins, he can run like the wind, he’s strong, physical, composed and can play football. The one thing he needs to work on, which I speak regularly to him about, is his leadership skills.

“He can become more vocal and because he’s such a good guy, when he speaks people listen.

“I am fond of him and I’m delighted he’s doing well. He is a player I think can go with us through the divisions, be on that journey, because this is a club that wants to protect its assets and not sell them – and he’s one of the biggest ones.”

Santos has also hit a chord with the Bolton fans after recovering from a shaky start to the season to become one of the division’s most effective centre-halves.

In common with a few other Wanderers stars, the high spirits and confidence is starting to show on the pitch and on social media, where characters are beginning to emerge after a difficult campaign.

“Sometimes on social media players are worried about showing their personality because of the negatives that can follow,” Evatt said.

“But Rico is a wonderful fella and I can’t speak highly enough of him. I’m pleased the supporters are starting to engage with him and understand what a good player he can be for this club.

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“He has loads to improve on still but he can be what he wants to be.

“We have a good relationship, he wants to learn and he trusts me, long may that continue.”

Evatt is looking forward to welcoming Scunthorpe to the UniBol tonight looking for a fourth consecutive victory - but has warned it will not be a simple task.

"They’ve had a good run of form themselves, they’ve won their last four games. Neil (Cox) has found a way of playing that is effective, and it’s going to be a difficult challenging game," he said.

"But we’re in a good place, the squad’s in a good place, we can rotate if needs be to keep energy high and we’ve got players chomping at the bit on the training pitch, chomping at the bit off the bench, chomping at the bit off the bench and in reserve.

"There’s lots to be positive about but also know that we’re not just going to turn up tomorrow and win the game, we have to do the basics well, make sure we concentrate on our performance level and if we perform well, I’m confident that we’ll beat anybody in this league but it’s about what we do more than anything else.”

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