‘UNFORTUNATE’ full-back Ben Jackson can still get plenty out of his loan at Bolton Wanderers despite falling out of the first team picture.

Ian Evatt believes the Huddersfield Town defender is unlucky to be contesting a position on the left with the in-form Declan John but that Jackson will be learning a lot from his team-mate on the training ground.

The 20-year-old Jackson has impressed for Bolton in his four appearances so far this season, the last being a 1-1 draw against Morecambe on February 9.

Evatt has been happy with his progress and explained why he has picked others ahead of Jackson on the subs’ bench in recent weeks.

“He is doing really well,” said the Wanderers boss. “Ben is a good young player.

“He is unfortunate that he is probably sat behind the best left-back outside the Championship, in my opinion, in Declan John. Also, when I am naming substitutes, I like to name attackers but also players that can play in multiple positions that can cover different areas.

“Harry (Brockbank) can play centre-back, right-back, he has played left-back whereas Ben is more an out-and-out left-back so Harry gives me more options.”

Jackson has continued to travel with the team – and Evatt feels the Huddersfield youngster has the talent to play regularly further up the league despite his lack of game time with Bolton.

“Ben understands the situation,” Evatt added. “He is next in line to Declan and actually it is good for him to watch Declan play and train and learn from him and learn the qualities of what is needed to play at a high level because I believe Dec has got them and Ben has got them as well.”

Wanderers extended their unbeaten run to 13 games with a 1-0 win at Forest Green at the weekend, with Evatt pleased at the way his players handled the pressures of a televised match against one of the club’s direct promotion rivals.

The Bolton boss has been happy to see leaders emerge in his dressing room through the campaign, nowhere more so than with Ricardo Santos.

“We have a really strong spine of the team and it is an experienced one, too. All successful teams need it,” he said.

“Rico’s leadership qualities are starting to come out and that is down the confidence he has and the way he has been playing.

“For me, that was the next stage of his development, becoming more vocal.

“He is an unassuming, humble, lovely young man and when he speaks, people listen. He needs to be more vocal for his own team-mates and he is starting to learn that.

“Doyle is a fantastic bloke and a leader, as is Sarce, Gilks, Kieran Lee, MJ, Tutte, all those lads are driving the lads in the right direction, which is great to see.”

By Santos’s own admission, one area of his game that must improve is his goalscoring.

The big defender has played every minute for Wanderers this season but has not been on the scoresheet since October 2019 when he netted for Barnet against Fylde in the National League.

Evatt praised the way his team defended from the front at Forest Green – and also believes the defenders have an obligation to chip in with the goals.

“It is everybody’s responsibility to both attack and defend,” he said. “That is the way we play so when we keep clean sheets it is not just down to the back four and goalkeeper, it is a group collective effort. We defend from the front with the way we press the ball.

“Likewise, attacking is not just down to Eoin Doyle and the front players to score. With the way we have been playing there is an opportunity for the full-backs to score, for midfielders to score. Rico has had good chances too and he knows he needs to add goals to his game.

“He is a big aggressive strong boy and we work on set pieces to enable him to get chances and opportunities.

“I believe Rico will score a really important goal in the run-in. I think he will score a vital set piece that will get us three points and he has to have that same belief when he’s going into the opposition box.”

Meanwhile, Wanderers’ current unbeaten run puts them 12th among the current longest streaks in Europe’s top leagues, according to Whoscored.com.

Already boasting the longest run in England, Bolton are now tucked in behind Ajax (15 games unbeaten), Partizan Belgrade (16), Young Boys (16), Vizela (17), FC Porto (18), Barcelona (18), Sporting Lisbon (24), Slavia Prague (24), Empoli (24) Red Star Belgrade (28) and Rangers (33).