IAN Evatt foresees a real battle developing for the number one goalkeeper spot at Wanderers this season.

Last season’s promotion hero Matt Gilks penned a new one-year contract this summer and has now been joined by ex-Barrow regular Joel Dixon at the UniBol.

Many fans expect Gilks to start the season as first-choice - and he has taken the number one shirt in the recently released squad numbers - but Evatt anticipates that the battle will be much closer than people realise.

“We have got two number ones – and that is how it has to be,” he told The Bolton News.

“Matt has been absolutely brilliant and we’re delighted that he is playing on because he was a huge part of why we turned things around last season and ended up getting promoted.

“He has had a knee operation this summer, things have gone really well, his knees are in good shape. We’re excited that he is continuing.

“But we need someone alongside him that we can trust and know that when he is due to play that he won’t let anyone down.”

Dixon played 65 times for Barrow under Evatt’s stewardship and kept 29 clean sheets, eventually helping the Bluebirds return to the Football League for the first time in 48 years as National League champions in 2019/20.

Evatt experienced issues in the early part of last season as young Fleetwood loanee Billy Crellin’s erratic form contributed to inconsistent results.

The Bolton boss is confident that in Gilks and Dixon he has two senior keepers who can cope with the workload League One will offer.

“We have to know what we are getting,” he said. “It is no good to me having a goalkeeper that one week will be a two-out-of-10 and the next week a nine-out-of-10. We need consistency.

“We need people to have faith in the goalkeeper because it’s probably the most key position on the whole pitch to give a team confidence.

“Now I believe we have got two goalkeepers who are fit for purpose and can give us the same quality of performance as each other, really, and help the team progress.”