RICARDO Santos has revealed the pivotal role Alex Baptiste played in turning his season around at Wanderers.

The big centre back scooped Bolton’s player of the year award after helping them to promotion from League Two, having initially struggled at the UniBol.

Santos did not look as comfortable playing in a back three in the early days, eventually settling and then thriving when Ian Evatt switched to 4-2-3-1 alongside Baptiste.

But speaking to The Bolton News, he explained how his experienced team-mate ensured he did not get too down when results were not going the Whites’ way.

“Baps has been massive for me, helped me through the whole way,” he said. “I didn’t start too well but he kept me going.

“He’d call me, WhatsApp me, just to make sure my head was up.

“That kind of thing really helps and it helps to have that experience next to you as well when you are out there on the pitch.

“I always say he doesn’t get enough credit for what he does. The boys tell him but the outside world doesn’t give him the credit he’s due.

“He isn’t really that type, doesn’t really card about that, he just wants to see everyone else do well.

“I just want him to get that contract done, sorted, so I can play alongside him again next season. I need my partner there.”

Baptiste is out of contract this summer but the club has already confirmed a new deal is on its way.

Santos believes the commanding partnership he formed with the ex-Blackpool and Middlesbrough man can work again next season at a higher level.

“I think it’s the same as playing up front in a partnership – Baps understands my game and I understand his,” Santos said. “He knows when to cover me, speaks to me all the time, so we just understand each other.

“At the beginning of the season I played with Ryan (Delaney), Reiss (Greenidge) a couple of games, so it was chopping and changing quite a bit but when me and Baps started playing together and then played for a while, we understood each other and grew together.”